The Cowboys got absolutely obliterated by the 49ers, losing 42-10 in a game that was billed by the team as their measuring stick game. That doesn’t bode well for their Super Bowl aspirations, especially with how poor everyone played in this game. So which players struggled the most, and were there any good performances? Let’s look at the player grades from Pro Football Focus.
The offense never got clicking
For how much discussion there had been about the Cowboys’ red zone issues, it was overlooked how good the group had been until they reached the red zone. Coming into this game, the Cowboys had the most red zone appearances and the best third down conversion rate in the league. But against San Francisco, they couldn’t get anything going.
RT Terence Steele - 36.0
Terence Steele had a very bad night. He surrendered eight pressures on the night, which translated to four hurries, three hits, and a sack on Dak Prescott. Steele drew Nick Bosa most of the night, and he was thoroughly beaten from the very first snap.
QB Dak Prescott - 40.5
No surprise here, as Dak Prescott turned in a pretty poor showing. He threw three interceptions and took three sacks. Prescott also only completed 58.3% of his passes and had several bad misses on the night.
WR Michael Gallup - 53.4
Michael Gallup was coming off some big games, but he didn’t replicate that performance against the 49ers. He had five targets on the night but only caught two of them for 15 yards. Gallup had two deep shots on the night, but couldn’t reel in either of them. Another target his way turned into a pick after Gallup was so crowded by the defender that it got batted into the defense’s hands.
WR Brandin Cooks - 56.8
Brandin Cooks was acquired this offseason in large part to give this offense a vertical threat that they specifically needed to beat a defense like the 49ers. That didn’t even come close to happening, as Cooks saw four targets and reeled in just one for seven yards. He had two deep shots - one was thrown just out of bounds, and another was picked - and another target on a quick slant resulted in another interception.
RB Tony Pollard - 58.7
Tony Pollard started off slow, and never got better. On the night, he had eight carries for just 29 yards. He also had four catches for 35 yards, but 26 of those yards came on a screen late in the game. Pollard also had a costly fumble early in the game. Not Pollard’s best by any stretch.
The defense got run over
The 49ers are known for being a run-heavy team, and the Dallas defense would need to be on their toes - especially in the trenches - in order to slow this offense down. That didn’t come close to happening, as the 49ers pretty much did whatever they wanted.
iDL Mazi Smith - 32.8
Mazi Smith was far from the only one, but he was getting pushed around all night. For a guy whose calling card is his run defense, Smith was getting blown off the line on almost every play. He only played on about a third of the defensive snaps, but it was a poor showing for the rookie.
S Donovan Wilson - 37.5
Donovan Wilson had a rough night. Early in the game, he got called for a facemask that gave San Francisco a first down and, later on, he was also flagged for unnecessary roughness that overturned what would’ve been a crucial third down stop. He also gave up a touchdown to George Kittle on a play where Wilson appeared unsure on where the ball even was.
S Jayron Kearse - 37.7
Like Wilson, Jayron Kearse was called for two penalties on the night, but only one was accepted. That was an offsides call where Kearse lined up way over the line of scrimmage and never reset himself, ultimately erasing an incompletion forced by the defense. Kearse also allowed catches on all four of his targets for a total of 42 yards.
EDGE Micah Parsons - 54.2
Two pressures for Micah Parsons in this game, which has to be considered a massive disappointment with how porous the 49ers offensive line had been coming into this game. Parsons was even worse in run defense, frequently getting thrown off his spot when he tried to set the edge.
EDGE DeMarcus Lawrence - 54.5
DeMarcus Lawrence matched Parsons’ two pressures and recorded a tackle for loss on a run play, but those were really his only good moments. The rest of the game saw Lawrence getting pushed around and giving up huge holes in the run game, a highly uncharacteristic performance for him.
The few good performances from this one
WR KaVontae Turpin - 93.4
KaVontae Turpin didn’t play much before he got injured, but he was good. His lone target was a 26-yard touchdown that showed off his elite speed and acceleration. Turpin’s status going forward is in doubt after suffering an ankle injury as a result of a questionable tackle during a return.
S Juanyeh Thomas - 89.7
Juanyeh Thomas only played on nine defensive snaps, so the sample size is a big factor here. That said, he was the one who forced an incompletion on the play that was ultimately undone by double penalties on Wilson and Kearse.
iDL Osa Odighizuwa - 83.1
Osa Odighizuwa had a good game rushing the passer, leading the team with four pressures. However, he was also getting shoved around quite a bit in run defense. Still, he was the highest graded defensive linemen in this game by a wide margin.
CB DaRon Bland - 80.7
DaRon Bland was thrown at exactly once in this game, and he forced an incompletion on it. He had another incompletion that was undone by a penalty as well. Bland didn’t really get many opportunities to impact this game, but he was good when the ball came his way.
CB Jourdan Lewis - 75.1
Jourdan Lewis had a rough night in coverage, giving up three completions on four targets, including the touchdown to Kittle on the trick play. But Lewis graded out as the best run defender by a country mile with a 95.4 run defense grade; Kearse was second with a distant 72.7 run defense grade. It’s never a good sign when a cornerback is your best run defender, but Lewis still deserves recognition for his work.