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Cowboys news: Observations from the Cowboys 17-9 preseason loss to the 49ers

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Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

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After Guillain-Barre syndrome sidelined him in 2018, Travis Frederick makes NFL return in Cowboys’ preseason opener - Calvin Watkins, SportsDay

Several key players for the Cowboys were missing Saturday night, but one very special player was out on the field.

The only thing left for Frederick was playing in a NFL game again and he did that Saturday night in the Cowboys preseason opener against the 49ers. Frederick played nine snaps with the first-team offense before calling it a night.

“”It was a good feeling to be out there, playing with the guys and being a part of the game,” Frederick said at halftime. “I am trying to treat everything just like a normal preseason and a normal training camp. That is what this was tonight; a good first drive for us. It was a chance for us to get a couple of runs in, a couple of passes and get out to let some of our younger guys have a go at it.”

Dak Prescott plays one series, leads Cowboys to FG – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk

The Cowboys starters on offense had one shot to get points.

Dak Prescott led the Cowboys on a nine-play, 69-yard scoring drive before leaving for the night. It ended in a 25-yard field goal by Brett Maher with 10:30 remaining in the first quarter. Prescott went 4-for-4 for 23 yards, completing passes to Michael Gallup (two catches, 19 yards), Tavon Austin (one catch, 5 yards) and himself on a batted pass (one catch, minus-1 yard).

The Cowboys, though, could not punch it in after having a first down at the 49ers’ 12-yard line. The red zone is an emphasis for the Cowboys this season after they finished 29th in red zone efficiency last season, getting 24 touchdowns and 16 field goals in 50 red-zone chances.

Starting Offense Pleased With Short Debut - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys

Fans got a little taste of the first-team offense, but it left us thirsting for more.

After months of anticipation and weeks of preparation, the first football game of the year arrives and the starters are on the bench in the blink of an eye.

“That’s the only frustrating part,” said Dak Prescott. “It’s a process to get ready for a game and you do and you get all your emotions and all that set in and get that first drive under your belt and you’re like, It’s time to go.’ And then you have to sit down.”

And it didn’t end the way we were hoping.

The Dallas Cowboys lost their preseason opener to the San Francisco 49ers. How did their quarterbacks perform? Do they have a kicker problem? These stories and more in your latest edition of Cowboys news.

Recap: Cowboys Lose Preseason Opener to 49ers - Kurt Daniels, Dallas Cowboys

The Mothership recaps the Cowboys first preseason game, including the team’s first half rush.

The most intriguing of those battles was likely the backup quarterback position with Cooper Rush and Mike White both trying to earn the honor of working behind Prescott. Rush got the first chance, coming in after Prescott, and he quickly led Dallas to another field goal, this from 40 yards, and a 6-0 advantage.

Rush again moved the Cowboys into field goal range later in the second quarter, but unfortunately, Maher, who has had a shaky training camp thus far, was this time unable to convert from 35 yards out, his margin for error seemingly getting thinner.

Given the break, the 49ers immediately responded with a seven play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown, the second-string Dallas defenders giving up a 21-yard pass and 15-yard run along the way. That was then followed by quarterback Nick Mullens capping off the drive by finding former Baylor wideout Jalen Hurd open for a 20-yard scoring completion and a 7-6 San Francisco lead.

But Rush would continue his effort by hustling the Cowboys down the field after the team took over possession with only 1:41 remaining in the half. The quarterback was good on 9-of-11 on his pass attempts during the drive, marching his team down to the 49ers’ 13-yard line where Maher this time split the uprights on a 31-yard field goal to give Dallas a 9-7 advantage at the break.

Niners 17, Cowboys 9: What we learned about Dak and the backup QBs - Mike Fisher, 105.3 The Fan

Fish examines what we can take from the performance of the Cowboys quarterbacks, including their young backups.

In the end, the undrafted young vet Rush finished 16-of-26 for 142 yards. He got some help from receiver Cedrick Wilson, could’ve used some help from rookie Jon’Vea Johnson, and set up tight end Blake Jarwin to be a weapon-who-almost-was.

Said Rush: “It’s a lot of fun. ... we moved the ball and got a lot of chunk plays. You just wish you could’ve punched it into the end zone.”

Then came third-stringer Mike White, and his inglorious start: A sack-strip-fumble (not all of his fault, then negated by a flag) on his very first snap. Ah, and that start featured a sequel when with 7 minutes left and the game still within reach, White was pressured and fumbled again, this time with no ref rescue.

Did Rush Gain An Edge In Backup QB Battle? - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys

It’s still early, but the battle of the backups has a clear leader.

The backup quarterback competition between Cooper Rush and Mike White still requires a full body of work. But for one preseason game, Rush had better production – and fortune.

The Cowboys’ primary backup the last two seasons, Rush relieved Dak Prescott after the opening series in Saturday’s 17-9 loss to the 49ers. He played six total drives and completed 16 of 26 passes for 142 yards, leading the offense to two of its three field goals.

“I thought Cooper did a nice job in the two-minute drill,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. “A lot of different situations you try work on in practice, but nothing like being in a game situation like that. I thought he handled it well. I thought the guys handled it well.”

5 observations of the Cowboys preseason-opening loss to the 49ers: Offense doesn’t show much change under Kellen Moore - Calvin Watkins, SportsDay

Calvin Watkins from Dallas Morning News offers up his five observations, including that new offense we’ve been hearing a lot about.

1. Kellen Moore’s offense

The Cowboys playbook doesn’t have too many changes. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s goal is to spice up the offense with some bunch sets, motion and deep throws. The Cowboys are basically running the same plays they’ve always run, just in different ways. In the preseason opener you’re not going to see much, but Moore did call for more deep throws. Cooper Rush overthrew Reggie Davis on a go route down the sidelines and he also missed Blake Jarwin on another pass.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the Cowboys’ inability to convert in the red zone. The first-team offense stayed on the field for just nine plays and Dak Prescott had a pass batted down on third and 4 from the 49ers’ 6. Overall, the Cowboys went 0-4 in the red zone, which isn’t much different from Scott Linehan.

A positive is the run game. Rookie Tony Pollard, with playing the first team, had 16 yards on four carries and Darius Jackson, who lost the starting gig to Pollard, had 12 yards on four carries.

Wide receiver Jon’Vea Johnson was able to get open on quite a few routes but had two drops to go with three catches for 30 yards. Cedric Wilson, whom receivers coach Sanjay Lal said is the most improved on the team, was productive with three catches for 36 yards before leaving with a head injury.

4 Takeaways: Cowboys secondary to be primary weapon, but 49ers prevail - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

K.D. gives us his four takeaways, including a secondary that is on the rise.

First-team secondary is a primary weapon

The Cowboys played with the majority of their first-team defense on Saturday night, at least the ones who were available to play. Missing were DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, Tyrone Crawford, Sean Lee and Byron Jones. Yet. the defense was strong, tough and tantalizing.

Now the 49ers were short-handed on offense, making it difficult to project forward, but there was a lot to like, especially from the cornerbacks. After one blown coverage allowed a 49ers wideout to come free in midrange, he fell and fumbled the ball. Anthony Brown was able to scoop it and return it for a big gain, but a mistake by the refs on a replay ruled the pass incomplete.

From there, though, the defense hummed. Jourdan Lewis made a beautiful open-field tackle, and then on third-and 10 Anthony Brown made his own to keep the receiver from getting to the yard marker. On the next drive, Chidobe Awuzie came up for a big stick and on the next play was able to reach in and deflect a pass. Dallas only allowed 25 yards on the 49ers first two drives of the game.

SF 17, DAL 9: Cowboys Kicker Concerns Increase in Preseason Opener - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star

When are we officially supposed to be worried about this whole Brett Maher ordeal?

Brett Maher went 3-of-4 on the night on field goals, which isn’t bad on paper, but missed from just 35 yards out and barely made a 40-yarder before that. Reports of shaky play from training camp, and the same short-range deficiencies we saw in 2018, were evident in tonight’s game. Worrying about Maher isn’t new. We’ve been talking about it all offseason, given that Brett finished last year just 25th among NFL kickers in total FG accuracy.

Despite these red flags, the Cowboys have yet to sign Matt Bryant or any other free agent kicker still available. With a day off between now and Monday practice, perhaps they do add some competition for when business resumes in Oxnard.