If the Dallas Cowboys were worried about their defense going into the season, it seems like Tony Romo might be a bigger concern, throwing three interceptions in a 28-17 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers, whose defense made things very easy for Colin Kaepernick in a game that turned to be a bad indication of what this season will be like.
Romo is coming off back surgery, and the concern for the Cowboys is that these weren’t just bad decisions. Romo seemed to be unable to turn his body in certain angles and directions, missing wide open receivers at times and forcing passes he shouldn’t be aiming for at all. Eric Reid (returning one interception 48 yards to the Dallas 2), Perrish Cox and Patrick Willis did a good job of picking passes, but at least two of the picks were Romo’s fault 100%.
This wasn’t just Romo making turnovers. DeMarco Murray, who had a good performance with 118 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, showing that the Cowboys have a running game and that the 49ers have concerns when it comes to stopping the run, fumbled the ball on the first drive which was taken by Chris Culliver 35 yards for a touchdown. Things went badly for the Cowboys from the first moment, eventually falling behind 28-3 to enter halftime, not scoring a touchdown until deep into the third quarter.
Colin Kaepernick had a good performance, but he didn’t have his work cut out for him. He finished with two touchdown passes to Vernon Davis, completing 16-of-23 passes for 201 yards, keeping a lot of plays alive with his feet. Frank Gore entered the 10,000 rushing yards club with 66 on 16 carries, but the big addition was Carlos Hyde, looking like a powerhouse back in the 7 carries he got, busting out for 50 yards, just like he did for Ohio State in college.
The 49ers did learn that they’ll have problems stopping the run while NaVorro Bowman is out along with Aldon Smith, giving up 127 yards on 23 carries to the Cowboys, a team falling way behind and generally in passing mode. Offensively the 49ers looked good, but this was the Cowboys defense we are talking about, a defense that once again couldn’t create a turnover. It was the 17th straight time in which a loss came when the Cowboys couldn’t force a turnover.
Michael Crabtree, usually’s Kaepernick’s favorite target, caught just two passes for 25 yards as it seemed like the Cowboys were mostly focused on him. Stevie Johnson, a newcomer from Buffalo, also caught two passes but the real go to guy was Anquan Boldin, maybe the most important off-season retainee, with eight passes caught for 99 yards. There were a few moments in the second half when it looked like the Cowboys had a chance of picking up momentum, but the Niners did very well on third down, converting 7-of-12.
For the 49ers, this was quite a smooth way to start a season after a lot of question marks surrounding the team in the preseason and going into the game. For the Dallas Cowboys, it’s almost as if it’s panic mode straight away, unless this wasn’t an indication of what Tony Romo will be about this season.