1. Dak in the 4th Quarter: In general, he had a great outing in the fourth quarter, and were it not for penalties probably would have had more time to complete the comeback. And the running TD was a good play in that regard, setting up a chance for a comeback.
2. Defense in the 4th Quarter: While they would get hit with penalties here too, they at least did many of the things they really should have done in quarters 1 through 3. They tackled well, moved to the ball, and got a pick. All of these were big in trying to get a comeback going and gave Dallas more of a chance than they deserved given how they played early on.
3. Gadget Play Ideas: Moore had some good ideas... and the short pass and lateral in the first quarter WAS a good idea. Romo and Nantz both figured that a first down could have been gained had the execution been better. In that... it was a good idea.
4: Special Teams: The fourth down fake punt was big and gave Dallas some hope. Pollard had a few nice returns, though penalties ended up limiting some of them... And no field goals or extra points were missed.
5. Zeke Pass Blocking: He wasn't a big feature in the game... as the running game was ultimately negated by spotting the Niners a huge lead... but he did manage a good play in the passing game. The Niners had a formation that would have essentially given them two free rushers. Zeke managed to end up taking out both of them by blocking one rusher into the other.
1. Penalties: This was the biggest killer of the game. 14 penalties for 89 yards. They disrupted nearly every drive, particularly early on, which then made things tougher for an offense that came out cold. As 3rd and 5 is makeable, and in pure theory you could even then figure to try and go for it because the down and distance is shorter... but two false starts in a row turning it into 3rd and 15 then puts you in a tougher position. And then, in the 4th quarter while trying to engineer a comeback, the defense would outdo the offense and committed just enough penalties to let the Niners practically run out the clock. The offense would get the ball back, those penalties ultimately assured there wouldn't be enough time to pull off the comeback realistically.
2. Dak in Quarters 1 Through 3: The offensive penalties hurt and put a lot of things behind schedule... but aside from the one TD drive in the 2nd Quarter, he really wasn't helping himself all that much. He'd have the right idea on where to throw but would throw behind his receiver leading to incompletions and thus preventing things from going further. There were also plenty of instances where he held onto the ball too long and essentially let himself get sacked. The INT in the 3rd Quarter made things worse. All of this meant that we couldn't keep up with the 49ers on offense, which then meant that by the time that Dak did get things going, it was 23-7 with about 11 minutes left in the game. Getting the score close late is nice... but spotting a team a 3-score lead with rather shaky play is not a game winning strategy.
3. Defense in Quarters 1 Through 3: While Dak struggled for much of the game... the defense wasn't truly that far behind him. In a way, they did a decent job of limited the Niners to field goals in the first half, BUT they also failed to force a punt in the first half. The Niners scored at least a field goal on EVERY drive in the first half... with the exception of the last drive of the half, and that had more to do with how little time was left in the second quarter. This then allowed San Francisco to take a 16-7 lead going into the half. Things improved a little bit in the 3rd, when they finally forced their first punt... but they also gave up a huge TD run after Dak's pick in that quarter as well. All of this added to the pressures that came from a sluggish offensive performance in the first three quarters.
4. Dak's Last Rush: In general, his fourth quarter wasn't bad... though it doesn't make up for being as cold as he was in the first three quarters... but things as they were, the yards Dak gained on the last run were meaningless. And the fact that he didn't get the ball to the refs quickly made it even worse. In that sense, if that was to be the play, gain the first down, slide once past the first down and then spike the ball to set up a Hail Mary.
The Close to the Season: A season ending like this hurts... the team came out flat, spotted the 49ers a 16-point lead before getting anything looking remotely close to what was seen going into the season. Committing penalties, particularly the pre-snap penalties that gave the 49ers shorter down and distances to go, if not a first down, or lengthening how far we had to go is even worse... It's a hallmark of the same sort of undisciplined play that hurt is in nearly every game, and particularly the ones we lost. We could have been better... smarter... but weren't. And that... hurts.