The San Francisco 49ers host the Dallas Cowboys at 4:05pm on Sunday in a game that is a matchup between the teams that dominated the league in the 1990s and won a total of seven Super Bowls between 1985 and 1996.
Neither team has been back to the Big Game in the last 15 years, and both teams have had their struggles. They are both under the helm of new coaches this season.
The Cowboys are coming off a heart breaking loss to the New York Jets where they appeared in control before fumbling the game away for the first loss after a 14-point fourth quarter lead in franchise history (they are now 241-1-1 in such circumstances).
Head coach Jason Garrett, who took over from Wade Phillips mid-season last year, has to get the team and star quarterback Tony Romo to clear their heads and focus on this week’s game. The team and owner Jerry Jones were quick to rally around Romo, who had a fumble and an interception in the fourth quarter, sealing the win for the Jets.
Cowboys linebacker Keith Brookings said of Romo, “I’ll take that guy over anybody in this league. Y’all might think I’m crazy, but I’m telling you right now, he’s going to have an all-time year… I’ve seen enough football to know the guy’s ready for the next level.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, “I thought Tony played one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play.” If you set aside the two costly errors in the fourth quarter, Romo did play an excellent game, throwing for 342 yards and 2 TDs.
The 49ers had exactly the opposite experience in the fourth quarter of their game last week. After the Seahawks pulled to within 2 points on a 55-yard Tavaris Jackson touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin, Ted Ginn, Jr. took over the game for the 49ers. Ginn returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns (102 yards and 55 yards) within a span of under one minute to seal the game for the 49ers.
Embattled quarterback Alex Smith was solid, if not stunning, completing 15 of 20 passes for 124 yards, and one running touchdown and Braylon Edwards, in his 49ers debut, had 3 receptions for 27 yards.
The Cowboys secondary is banged up, with Terrance Newman out, Orlando Scandrick out, and Mike Jenkins limited. This could provide an opportunity for Smith to open up the passing game and test the Cowboys secondary.
The Cowboys are in need of a victory to overcome the bad taste from last week’s loss, but the 49ers would love an opportunity to go up 2-0 early in the season and for Harbaugh to show that he’s bringing the team back to respectability.