(Editor's Note: The start of the 2017 season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to prepare. The Cowboys face a daunting schedule this year, highlighted by the AFC West and NFC West, as well as their traditional rivalries in the NFC East. Over the next two weeks, Bryan Broaddus will preview what to expect from all 13 of their upcoming opponents. The series continues with Week 7 and the San Francisco 49ers).
Opponent:San Francisco 49ers
Series Record: Tied (17-17-1)
This Year's Matchup:Oct. 22, Levi's Stadium
Best Draft Pick:Under new coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers are making the switch from a 3-4 front to a 4-3. The most important piece in that scheme is the three-technique defensive tackle and the 49ers drafted one of the best in college football: Solomon Thomas. While at Stanford, Thomas lined up as a defensive end but his best snaps were when they kicked him inside as a nickel rusher. By lining him up on the outside shoulder of the guard and letting him attack that one gap, he will make it difficult for opponents to account for him. His first-step quickness and explosion will be rare in this league.
Best Free Agency Move:Have always been a big fan of Pierre Garcon and the toughness with which he plays. The 49ers have added a big-bodied receiver that will go anywhere to catch the ball. It doesn't matter who lines up under center for the 49ers, that quarterback will benefit from a player with the skill level of Garcon.* Most Troublesome Matchup:*When these two teams met last season, it was a tight game until Navorro Bowman left the field with an injury. After that, the Cowboys were able to run the ball with effectiveness, which put the 49ers in a hole defensively. Despite having Pro Bowl players inside, Bowman has always been a difficult handle due to his anticipation and power at the point of attack. I expect that this season will be no different in that match up.
Most Favorable Matchup:The 49ers have no clear-cut favorite to win the quarterbacking job. Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley are the primary candidates but neither strike fear in defensive coordinators. C.J. Beathard was drafted in the third round, so he's looked at as a future prospect. Kyle Shanahan will have to pull some serious rabbits out of the hat to make either Hoyer or Barkley play well.
Unsung Storyline:John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan did a nice job of adding talent to a roster that didn't have much on it. The 49ers should be more competitive but still a draft or two away from being that group we saw under Jim Harbaugh. Patience here will be the key for the York Family.