Here are a few key matchups that could decide Sunday’s contest.
Key Matchup No. 1: WR Brandon Aiyuk vs CB DaRon Bland (and company)
San Francisco is loaded with weapons. With Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Christian McCaffery, they can gash a defense a number of different ways at a number of different levels. But if there’s one weapon that must be keyed on and eliminated from the equation, it’s their big play machine on the outside.
In 20 targets downfield, Aiyuk has turned 17 of them into touchdowns or first down receptions. He’s not a volume receiver, rather he’s an impact receiver. He has game-breaking speed and efficiency that’s unmatched in the NFL right now.
Clean man-to-man matchups aren’t easy to find. Players move around and matchups change throughout a game. As such, Aiyuk is likely to see a mix of Stephon Gillmore and Bland throughout the evening in Week 5.
With Bland arguably the better matchup, there should be a concentrated effort by Dallas to keep the young CB on the explosive Aiyuk as often as possible. The winner between the two could very well swing the balance of the game.
Entering this weekend, the Dallas Cowboys have made a few transactions.
The Cowboys will elevate two familiar faces for their battle against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Malik Jefferson and Sean McKeon will both make the trip to California as practice squad elevations for Dallas, providing depth at linebacker and tight end, respectively. McKeon will again take the field in place of Peyton Hendershot, who will miss his second game with an ankle injury.
Jefferson gets the nod over newly-signed linebacker Mikel Jones, and following the decision to waive Devin Harper prior to the Week 4 contest against the New England Patriots.
Both Jefferson and McKeon are also contributors on one of the most dominant special teams units in the NFL.
Often compared to San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, Hunter Luepke also has a diverse skillset and can contribute in several different ways. Here’s why he needs to be a factor in Sunday’s game.
If given the chance, Luepke might help Terence Steele try and contain Nick Bosa coming off the edge when Tony Pollard is not in the game. I would also get him involved in short-yardage and goal-line situations. This team from 20-20 is the best offense in football. They just can’t punch it in for 7. Most of the time. At least the drives are ending in points.
Luckily, even with three or by the defense, they have been scoring enough that they don’t need them. Sunday, they are going to need seven. The 49ers are going to score with Christian McCaffery. We have yet to see enough of Davis this year to trust him.
Do you really expect the smaller player on the team to try and pass block against the best defense in football? Vaughn was beat up last week trying to do so against the Pats; he just isn’t ready for that right now. Luepke may not be the most skilled runner or even catching the football. Does anyone remember what he did against the Raiders in the preseason?
Yes, I don’t care if it was the preseason. He was able to rack up over 110 total yards and a touchdown on 15 carries with five catches. So, this is the perfect time to give him the chance. The funny thing is that Dowdle and Luepke have played the same amount of snaps, 44.
Cowboys at 49ers referee report: Sunday Night Football matchup draws rookie referee- David Howman, Blogging the Boys
An underrated factor in winning and losing is getting a feel for how the officials are going to call the game on the field. The hope is that the officials don’t change the game, but with this officiating crew its hard to tell.
The Cowboys are gearing up for arguably the biggest game of the entire 2023 season so far as they travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers. Given that this team has knocked the Cowboys out of the playoffs each of the last two years, and the overall history between these franchises, the game has appropriately been scheduled for Sunday Night Football. However, in an odd move, the game has drawn the officiating crew of Alan Eck.
Of course, Eck is no stranger to officiating. He joined the NFL in 2016 as a side judge under veteran referee Walt Coleman. After his first season, Eck moved up to umpire, a title he held for six seasons. During that time, he served under other veteran referees like Tony Corrente and John Hussey.
Eck also found himself at the center of plenty of controversy in his final season in the Big 12 for some questionable penalties assessed to the Texas Longhorns in a close loss to Oklahoma State. Eck and his crew became the subject of much debate as a result, and the Big 12 head of officiating at the time, Walt Anderson, had to come out publicly and (mostly) defend Eck. Anderson is now once again Eck’s boss, as Anderson is the head of officiating for the NFL; it’s worth noting, however, that Anderson was not in that role when Eck first joined the NFL.
In Week 1, Eck called the Commanders/Cardinals game; Washington was called for eight penalties while Arizona had nine. The next week, Eck called the Titans/Chargers game; the home team Titans had seven penalties while the Chargers had just four. Then it was the Chiefs hosting the Bears; Kansas City had three penalties to Chicago’s six. Most recently, Eck called the Thursday Night Football game between the Lions and Packers; Green Bay, playing at home, were assessed four penalties to Detroit’s eight.
You might notice that the home team is 3-1 in Eck’s short tenure as a head referee, but it’s not necessarily the case that he favors the home team. The more penalized team is only 2-2 so far in games Eck calls, which doesn’t exactly suggest a real trend for how he controls the game. It is worth pointing out that the team favored to win is 3-1 in these games, with the lone exception being an overtime game between the Chargers and Titans. Additionally, three of these four games have seen the point totals hit the over, which is usually an indicator of an officiating crew that gives leeway to the offenses of both teams.
Blogging The Boys Podcast Network and YouTube Channel
We offer a different show every single day on the Blogging The Boys podcast network, and on weekdays we offer two different shows every single day.
- Monday: 1st and 10 with Tony Catalina & Aidan Davis
- Monday: Hidden Yardage with Mark Lane and Sean Martin
- Tuesday: The Writer’s Block with Brandon Loree, David Howman, Brandon Clements and Chris Halling
- Tuesday: BTB Roundtable with various BTB Staffers
- Wednesday: NFC East Mixtape with RJ Ochoa and Brandon Lee Gowton
- Wednesday: Talkin’ The Star with Connor Livesay and Joey Ickes
- Thursday: The Ocho with RJ Ochoa
- Thursday: Ryled Up with Roy White and Tom Ryle
- Friday: Girls Talkin’ Boys with Kelsey Charles and Meg Murray
- Friday: The Star Seminar with Danny Phantom and Rabblerousr
- Saturday: The World’s Team with Meg Murray and Paul Stewart
We also offer live shows every weekday afternoon on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel.
The Blogging The Boys podcast network is available on all major podcast platforms.