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Cowboys News: Big game by Ezekiel Elliott will be 49ers' downfall

Latest Cowboys headlines: Cowboys will find success running the ball; DT Richard Ash called up; will Marinelli blitz?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Gut Feeling: Cowboys will find success running the ball - Dallas Cowboys Staff
The staff gives their gut feelings for today's game. Here's Bryan Broaddus:

In the fourth quarter against the Packers, it appeared that this offense found something in the running game. We will see if they can carry that over against the 49ers, who they ran the ball well against last season. Ezekiel Elliott was outstanding, not only with those tough runs but later when he did have the space. The 49ers know that allowing Elliott to have another big game would likely be their downfall. Look for them to try and crowd the box to make things difficult for Elliott.

Where Scott Linehan can counter is with his different personnel groups. My gut feeling is that we’re going to see him play more “21” personnel by putting Keith Smith on the field. Linehan is going to want to make it a physical game, and by using Smith he can put a stout, downhill player at the point of attack to dig out those extra 49ers defenders. The offense finds success running the ball and it will be with them playing in that “21” personnel.

Madden 18 simulation: Cowboys 24, 49ers 23 - Patrick Holloway, Niners Nation
Our sister site predicts another heartbreaker for the 49ers but is happy that the simulation prevented Ezekiel Elliott from being a "god on the field".

The Cowboys running back has dodged any cuts in playing time due to suspension so far, but he couldn’t dodge the 49ers defense. Elliot averaged 103 yards on the ground and only 20 yards in the air. That may sound groan-inspiring, but holding Elliot to those numbers is something similar to LeVeon Bell—they just find their yardages. Getting only a bill at least keeps him from being a god on the field.

Ezekiel Elliott has to be affected, at least somewhat, by court drama - Todd Archer, ESPN
Ezekiel Elliott's teammates say he's done a great job of staying focused on the field, but his suspension saga has to weigh on him, Archer opines.

Now, is that the reason Elliott is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry? I wouldn’t say it is the sole reason. But it would have to be part of it. As would the offensive line issues. The Cowboys have two new starters on the line.

And Elliott has not been as dynamic. He has not followed his landmarks that are required in the zone running game. If a play is not supposed to bounce outside, he can’t go outside. That puts his blockers in a bad spot, which can lead to negative runs.

In the fourth quarter of Dallas' 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Elliott looked the best he has all season. He carried 13 times for 85 yards in the fourth quarter alone (29 carries for 116 yards overall). He hit the right holes. He was decisive with his cuts. He broke tackles. The blocking was better.

The Cowboys hope that was the start of something good for Elliott.

Cowboys’ reunion of two linebackers will be key to victory over 49ers - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
The cavalry has arrived just in time to contain the 49ers’ rushing attack.

This week, they will have their two preferred starting linebackers in Anthony Hitchens and Lee on the field for the first time this season.

Lee and Hitchens were instrumental in Dallas’ top-rated run defense of last season. Without them, it’s been as if the whole defense falls short. They haven’t been able to set the edge or mind their gaps, which has caused major leakage. Todd Gurley is a top-end talent but there is no reason the Cowboys should let rookie Aaron Jones get 125 rushing yards on 19 attempts.

Why 49ers present perfect opportunity for Cowboys to hit restart button on their season - Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay
If you're not going to beat a 0-6 team, who are you going to beat?

After a rough 2-3 start that has this team closer to the bottom-feeding Giants than the team with the NFL's best record -- yes, the Philadelphia Eagles -- good fortune has once again smiled on the Cowboys. Elliott's place in the backfield was restored by the Southern District of New York (actually by a federal judge sitting in for a vacationing federal judge, which is why this thing remains on hold until the end of the month). Linebacker Sean Lee, who never looks as valuable when he's playing and covering the field as he does when he's missing, returned to practice this week.

This will be the first game in 2017 that Lee and Anthony Hitchens have both played at linebacker. Given what Cowboys fans witnessed the last two games -- the Rams' Todd Gurley rushing for 121 yards, Packers rookie Aaron Jones rambling for 125 -- the pairing of Lee and Hitchens could be nearly as instrumental in achieving and sustaining success as Prescott and Elliott figure to be on the offensive side.

Scout’s Eye: Will Marinelli blitz? - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys don't blitz a lot, but when they do, it's been pretty effective.

Pressure has not been the problem for the Cowboys defensively. When it comes to pressure, Rod Marinelli has done it a couple of different ways. His three and four-man lines have been effective, but when he has blitzed, opposing quarterbacks have a rating of 66.39 -- which is good enough for sixth-best in the league. Marinelli would love to be able to choke the 49ers’ running game and force rookie C.J. Beathard to have to make a bunch of throws facing pressure. Marinelli is a big fan of pressure from his secondary, but this might be one of those opportunities for him to dial up some of those pressure packages against a quarterback that hasn’t seen much of that.

49ers can expect Dallas to turn up heat on QB C.J. Beathard - Grant Cohn, Santa Rosa Press Democrat -
Cohn explains how he thinks the Cowboys will attack 49ers QB C.J. Beathard.

Expect the Cowboys to blitz Beathard early, especially on third downs, to intimidate and rattle him. Expect the Cowboys to overwhelm him with blitzes he has never seen.

Some teams try to confuse young quarterbacks with tricky blitzes. For instance, they will show pressure on one side of the offensive line — a defender will walk to the line of scrimmage before the snap and lean forward as if he’s going to blitz. Then the young quarterback will redirect the pass protection assignments to pick up that blitzer. But when the center snaps the ball, that blitzer won’t blitz — he will drop back into coverage — and someone on the other side of the offensive line will blitz instead. This is one way the Cowboys could attack Beathard.

One thing the Cowboys won’t do. Some teams choose to play soft zone coverage against young quarterbacks, forcing them to lead long, mistake-free drives and make lots of difficult throws into small windows.

Don’t expect the Cowboys to use this strategy against Beathard. He wants to throw — center Daniel Kilgore calls him a gunslinger. Beathard trusts his arm. He will carve up the Cowboys defense if they defend him with vanilla coverages the entire game.

Jason Garrett: There's 'a lot to like' about rookie CB Jourdan Lewis - Jon Machota, SportsDay
The 3rd-round pick is having an impressive rookie season.

"He's a really, really good athlete," Garrett said. "He's got excellent quickness, balance, change of direction, very good ball skills. He's got instincts for the game. He's got a competitive spirit. He keeps coming back, so just a lot to like about him.

"He's a young player, he's learning every week, and I think he's getting better every week because he really does take the right approach. He wants to be a really good football player."

DT Richard Ash Signed to 53-Man Roster - Nick Eatman, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have finally filled their 53rd roster spot.

With an open roster spot following Stephen Paea's decision to retire, the Cowboys signed defensive tackle Richard Ash from the practice squad Saturday. Ash was signed off Jacksonville's practice squad late last season, and he went to training camp with Dallas this year. If active Sunday against the 49ers, he'd provide depth behind starter Maliek Collins. The Cowboys have also used David Irving at tackle since he has returned from suspension and also have Brian Price for depth purposes.

Tank is coming for you. #DALvsSF

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