Ward and Greenlaw Return to Practice; McCaffrey Talks Gearing up for Cowboys - Lindsey Pallares, 49ers.com
After a veteran rest day, RB Christian McCaffrey looks ahead to his toughest test yet.
“My body feels great,” McCaffrey said. “Even when you take the off day, all the trainers and strength and conditioning coaches do a good job of moving you and keeping you in shape. At the same time, getting a little day off once in a while feels great on your body.”
Having the NFL’s leading rusher feeling fresh midway through the week bodes well for the 49ers who will face one of the league’s most formidable run defenses. Factoring out the Cowboys Week 3 loss to the Cardinals, Dallas has given up an average of 75 yards per game on the ground. McCaffrey has only had one game in which he hasn’t hit 100 rushing yards on his own. It’s one of the matchups to watch come Sunday.
“Any time you’re playing a team like this, you have to come ready to go and just be about executing,” McCaffrey said.
Last season in the NFC Divisional Round game, the 49ers do-it-all back logged 10 carries for 35 yards and touchdown to help San Francisco secure the 19-12 win. McCaffrey says his game planning for the Week 5 game entails some looking back to that January matchup, but it’s just one piece of the preparation.
“You’ll look at last year’s tape, a little bit of it, look at the games they’ve had this year and take notes off of everything,” McCaffrey said. “Really, each week is a new week. I try to treat it that way.”
This storied, yet balanced rivalry (series tied at 19-19-1), is rooted in postseason contests.
Theirs is a rivalry borne not out of geography or divisional alignment but of repeated meetings in the postseason crucible.
It started in the 1970s, when the Cowboys won consecutive NFC Championship Games over the 49ers in the 1970 and 1971 seasons and bested San Francisco in a divisional playoff game in 1972. In the 1980s, the 49ers won four Super Bowls, beating the Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 10, 1982, on the strength of “The Catch” by Dwight Clark, arguably the most memorable moment of the rivalry.
Dallas came storming back in the 1990s, knocking off the Niners in the NFC Championship Game after the 1992 and 1993 seasons on its way to two Super Bowl titles. San Francisco finally got past Dallas the next season in the NFC Championship Game on its way to its fifth (and most recent) Lombardi Trophy. The Cowboys would bounce back to win their fifth (and most recent) championship the following year.
And then ... nothing.
The teams did not meet again in the postseason until a wild-card game on Jan. 16, 2022, a span of 9,863 days. The teams met again last season in the NFC divisional round. The 49ers won both games by a combined 13 points, reviving the rivalry and setting the stage for Sunday night.
With 49ers at 4-0, George Kittle is just fine with limited production in pass game - Myles Simmons, ProFootballTalk.com
George Kittle is all team.
George Kittle has long been one of the league’s most effective tight ends, playing in 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system.
But last week was the first time in a regular-season game that Kittle’s received just one target.
Kittle caught the pass for a 9-yard gain. But even though he was on the field for 96 percent of San Francisco’s offensive snaps, quarterback Brock Purdy threw to Kittle just that once.
With the 49ers at 4-0, Kittle’s limited passing-game production is alright with him.
“Niners are winning the football games,” Kittle said Thursday, via David Bonilla of 49erswezbone.com. “I’m playing well in the run game, and as long as I’m playing to my standard, I can only control what I can control. If Kyle’s calling plays — we have six guys who, when they touch the ball, you don’t know what’s going to happen. They can score touchdowns, they can break tackles.”
“Sure, I love getting the football,” Kittle said. “I love running in space. It’s fun. If those aren’t the play calls being called, it is what it is, and I’m just going to do everything I can to either get those guys open or block my ass off. And I’ve been doing that pretty well so far.
Friday’s injury report for Dallas @ San Francisco.
Questionable - LB Damone Clark (shoulder); Out - TE Peyton Hendershot (ankle)