Santa Clara, CA – Blaine Gabbert got his offense off to a fast start, they scored two touchdowns in the first half and looked like a playoff team. But by the second quarter the Dallas Cowboys tied the game and never looked back. They rallied back to beat the Forty-Niners 24-17, and if things couldn’t get any worse, San Francisco lost one of their starters in the process.
The49ers impressive start is one for the books. Blaine Gabbert never looked better, he led his offense with ease to a 14-0 lead. San Francisco’s defense forced Dan Bailey to kick a 47 yard field goal on opening drive and he missed. NaVarro Bowman sacked Dak Prescott for an 8-yard loss, marking his first sack of the season.
The bad news, Bowman suffered a lower leg injury in the third quarter and never returned. 49ers coach Chip Kelly said he had no news on his injury when he addressed the media after the game. But rumors circulating around the stadium suggest that Bowman tore his Achillies and will have a MRI on Monday.
“It stinks. It’s really, really bad,” said T Joe Staley. “NaVorro is a captain for us, one of our team leaders. We’re going to have to have a guy step up. That’s a huge role to fill. You can’t really replace a guy like NaVorro, but we have to have guys step up and be ready to go.”
Losing Bowman was a huge loss for the 49ers especially when he was a key factor in holding rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliot to 42 yards rushing in the first half. After Bowman’s exit, Elliot had 96 yards rushing which included a 1-yard touchdown that gave the Cowboys the 21-17 lead late in the third quarter.
“The defense was awesome in the second half getting that turnover and that allowed us to do what we do best. It was a great team win,” G Zack Martin.”
This is where the game got ugly. Gabbert’s pass deep in the middle to Torrey Smith was intercepted by Morris Claiborne. That setup Bailey’s 22 yard field goal extending Dallas lead 24-17 in the fourth. A smothering Cowboys defense didn’t make things easy for the 49ers on their last drive.
Right before the 2-minute mark, Gabbert had struggled moving the offense. On two no-huddle shotgun plays, San Francisco moved the chains. But two incomplete passes later it was 4th down. Gabbert’s went short and left intended for Jeremy Kerley. Dallas took over and ran out the clock to end the game.
“Yeah. That’s on me,” Gabbert said on his interception. “I go to throw him to the middle of the field. I got to throw him to the hash and I just cut it a little too earlier and just missed him wide.”
Gabbert capped off a 63 yard drive in 9 plays with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley making it a 7-0 game. Carlos Hyde broke free from several defenders for a 4-yard touchdown extending the 49ers lead 14-0 early in the second quarter. The Cowboys defense woke up, sacked Gabbert and forced San Francisco to punt.
Prescott then connected with Terrance Williams for a 6-yard touchdown to cut the lead in half. With .12 seconds left in the quarter Prescott’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Brice Butler tied the game 14-14 to end the first half. Phil Dawson kicked a 36-yard field goal making it a 17-14 game in the third but Dallas’ offense controlled the game from that point on.
“This is a great team and I think this win just shows our character,” Prescott said. “We had guys go down last week, guys stepped in and they got the job done. We’ve done a good job going down 14-0 this game. We didn’t blink. The defense made some plays to get the thing rolling and we got it done.”
A short week ahead, the 49ers host the Arizona Cardinals for Thursday Night Football.