The 49ers defense destroyed the Cowboys out of the water in the first half alone to win 28-17 on Sunday afternoon. They didn’t have to look back either once they jumped out to a strong lead.
This was a game where they took care of business and it started with the early forced fumble by Dan Skuta. After it was recovered by Chris Culliver for a touchdown return, the game remained the 49ers way.
“Our defense did a heck of a job getting turnovers [helping the offense start fast],” said Joe Staley. “We have stuff to improve on [offensively], especially in the second half.”
Dallas was able to get yards, but the 49ers defense didn’t break after bending. They had a nearly seven-minute possession with only a field goal by Dan Bailey to show for it after the touchdown.
Tony Romo became desperate afterwards with an interception to Eric Reid which was returned into the red zone. It was a forced throw, making the Cowboys dependent on passing after digging their own hole. The 49ers were able to capitalize immediately with a short touchdown pass to Vernon Davis.
The Cowboys drove again, but Patrick Willis intercepted Romo as he was under pressure. Romo became desperate again with a long heave, intercepted by Perrish Cox right before halftime. The 49ers took advantage of it with Carlos Hyde’s first career NFL touchdown for their final score of the game.
Offensively, the 49ers looked great on their first possession with three passes by Colin Kaepernick leading to a 29-yard Vernon Davis touchdown pass. Two quick strikes to Anquan Boldin brought up momentum before the touchdown pass.
Dallas came into the game with the third worst defense in 2013, expected to be even worse this year with the loss of several key players including Sean Lee (injury) and Jason Hatcher (free agency). Only on the first 49ers possession did they look like a poor defense.
The 49ers put their feet off the gas pedal after halftime, not being able to score another point in the third or fourth quarters. Carlos Hyde ended up being the most effective weapon on offense and he wasn’t utilized until the late second quarter.
While it’s easy to be relaxed after leading 28-3 at one point in the game, they couldn’t muster up more with a sack to take themselves out of a field goal range and a missed 37-yard attempt by Phil Dawson. It became a dull and predictable second half with a mostly conservative game plan, rightfully so.
It’s just one game and it is only Week 1, but credit goes to the defense for getting the turnovers and keeping momentum on their side. It kept Romo out of rhythm, being forced to do too much which set the offense in place for later in the game.
The offense wasn’t poor today, but in the words of Frank Sinatra: “The best is yet to come.”