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Mailbag: How To Explain The Red Zone Decisions?


The comments from Jerry Jones and Tony Romo concerning passing, rather than running, in the red zone tells me they have no confidence in their offensive line. Can they overcome their "pass, pass, pass" mentality?

Rowan: I'm starting to wonder what it will take for them to actually attempt to pound the ball near the goal line. The excuse has been used a lot that the Cowboys didn't trust their running game in the past, but what's not to trust now with a running back that averaged more than five yards per carry? They got too technical and cute on a concept that's not too difficult to grasp – run the ball when that's what's working. Of course there will be linebackers and defensive linemen waiting. Everything tightens up down there. The idea is that even with a guy near the open lane, your running back and running game is good enough to pound through. The worst decision was on that second-and-1 on the first red zone possession. What's worst case scenario if it doesn't work – third-and-3? The calls down there certainly didn't make much sense and didn't reward the line or the back for solid work between the 20s.

David:Tony Romo and Jerry Jones had a decent point Sunday night that when an NFL defense knows a run is coming, it can often go poorly. My problem with that line of logic is that we've been sold since May that the drafting of Zack Martin signaled a more confident and more physical style of offense. Yeah, the 49ers probably knew what was coming, but I thought the point was that the Dallas offensive line, combined with DeMarco [embedded_ad] Murray, was too much for even a talented defense to deal with. Three first-round picks on the offensive line and a Pro Bowl running back ought to be able to get you a yard. Like Rowan said – if it doesn't work, you're still dealing with a better scenario than a sack.

After the first game of season, how well did the defense do? I don't get to see all the games.

Rowan: That was probably the bright spot of the night, even though it was far from perfect. I still will never understand the cushions the corners give to receivers in zone on third-and-short. Way too often, Colin Kaepernick had all day to pick his outside target on a short route to move the sticks. Just way too easy. Other than that, though, the linebackers played well, and Rolando McClain certainly made a difference in the middle. I also thought Jeremy Mincey did a good job getting pressure and Bruce Carter seemed to be a better fit at the strong side. Justin Durant hurt his groin, though, so that's something to monitor in the coming week.

David: The defense looked good – considering the expectations I had set for it going into the game. The Cowboys shut San Francisco out in the second half, but it's a little hard to judge the 49ers' gameplan when you consider they were up 25 points with 30 minutes to play. Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin were nightmares for the secondary to deal with, and I think they could have racked up more yardage if they had needed to. I will say I was encouraged by the pressure the defensive line was able to generate, and all three starting linebackers had nice – but not great – showings.

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