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Mailbag: What About The Other Snap? Top 3 Needs?

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What do you consider the Cowboys' top three needs heading into this offseason? — JAMES DAVIDSON / DES MOINES, IA

Nick: Center, Guard, Safety. The Cowboys weren't good enough up front and not strong enough. They have to get better there. So that's two spots for sure. At safety, they've got three free agents there in Kearse, Hooker and Kazee. I could two of them re-signing. It's not a huge need, but it would be if they lost them all. But another linebacker or defensive tackle to stop the run wouldn't hurt.

Rob: One, add more depth and competition on the offensive line. The unit still has two Pro Bowlers and plenty of experience, but they spent all season trying to find the right five, and there's no question the line of scrimmage was a factor Sunday. Two, whatever adjustments are needed schematically for Dak Prescott to feel more in rhythm like he was early in the season. (Personally, I think the run game might be the biggest key because it would force an end to all that umbrella coverage by defenses.) Three, fix the penalties (most in the league this season).

After the Cowboys' successful fake punt, it looked as though they were going to try some kind of trick play with the punt team still on the field. Did the officials mess things up by not allowing them to snap the ball? Even when the offense had to eventually come on the field it seemed the officials caused the delay of game. — TONY VADASZ / PISCATAWAY, NJ

Nick: In a brief conversation I had with Fassel after the game, and then the interview we did with Anger, it was pretty clear they were trying to run another "free" play with the 49ers having so many players on the field. For some reason, they decided to stand over the ball because of a substitution. Although no one came in the game from the sideline. Only Jayron Kearse went onto the field and them came off. Not sure why since he doesn't play special teams or offense. But there's no reason why the refs shoudlve held the snap then, and then when the offense came onto the field, they took a long time to let the 49ers get set, costing them five yards. Not the reason they lost, but the refs messed that up.

Rob: Here's the explanation from Mike McCarthy: "We were going to go line up and run another play. So, it was a two-play series set that was called there on fourth down (before the fake punt). I think we had a player step on the field in celebration (after the fake punt). They recognized that, I was told afterwards, as were trying to substitute, because obviously we didn't substitute because we lined up immediately." So apparently that caused confusion with the officials, who thought there was a substitution coming? I'm still confused about it, to be honest.

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