Two of the league’s most fascinating teams will square off in Week 1 pre-season action Saturday night as the Dallas Cowboys head west to take on the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers certainly weren’t happy with the way things played out last season. After losing talented starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo early in the year, the Niners’ fell apart on both sides of the ball. The fact remains that this is a talented group and optimism is once again sky-high in northern California. San Francisco is a talented group and you can tell from Kyle Shanahan’s demeanour this training camp that the playoffs remain a legitimate goal. With a lot to accomplish, the pre-season seems to be taking on a higher importance for the Niners compared to some other groups.
Their opponents on Saturday night will be the Dallas Cowboys. Though Dallas is expected to be a legitimate playoff team this season, there is a lot of surrounding fanfare surrounding some of the contract statuses of their higher-profile players. Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper are in discussions, but more urgently is the case of star running back Ezekiel Elliott. The talented runner is holding out at the moment and it remains to be seen when and if he does return. For the time being, it’s believed that Alfred Morris and Darius Jackson will be able to fill the void out of the backfield.
Even though it is just the pre-season, the Cowboys and 49ers facing off just seems bigger than most other match-ups. Read on below the odds for a match preview and betting prediction for what promises to be a showdown filled with intrigue.
Cowboys vs. 49ers Betting Odds:
Dallas Cowboys +4.5 (-110)
@ San Francisco -4.5 (-110)
Over 36 (-110)
Under 36 (-110)
Cowboys vs. 49ers Pick:
One of the bigger storylines in this contest will be tracking the progress of Cowboys’ tight end Jason Witten, who is slated to return to the football field after taking a year off to be in the broadcast booth. Witten was already slowing down two years ago, so it will be interesting to see what kind of juice the veteran still has left in the tank. When he is healthy, the big man can be a real asset – especially in the red zone for the offensively talented Cowboys.
It is believed that Dallas won’t be playing many of their starters at all on Saturday evening. Dak Prescott is likely going to get very limited reps, but with injuries, holdouts, and other reasons – he won’t be joined by many of his colleagues in the startling lineup. DeMarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin, Byron Jones, Amari Cooper, and Sean Lee will all be out vs. San Francisco, so expect the depth of the squad to really get tested.
One position battle worth watching will be under centre with Dak Prescott’s backup spot. Cooper Rush and Mike White will battle it out for the honour, though truthfully none really inspire all that much confidence. If past outings are any indication, the Niners should be able to limit both play-callers from moving the chains.
For the Niners, they’ve simply got more experience and depth at the quarterback position. Behind Garoppolo will be last year’s whipping boy, C.J. Beathard. Despite his failures in 2018, he still started a bunch of games for the 49ers and you’d have to assume that experience could translate into him being a bit more successful against second and third-string defensive units. There is also Nick Mullens for San Francisco who will be splitting time. The former Southern Mississippi quarterback put on a fine display during last pre-season and has already outperformed Beathard in training camp.
Kyle Shanahan has said the starters will play, but obviously receive limited action. He did also want to get a closer look at their recent draft picks to better assess their readiness. Unfortunately their highest pick from the draft, Nick Bosa, is likely going to be inactive for the entire pre-season as he works his way back from a hamstring injury. He is supposedly going to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season.
With intense positional battles at both the QB and RB positions, and a new wave of optimism within the 49ers’ camp, you have to favour them at home in this spot. There is a lot to prove for this upstart group and it seems from coaching press conferences that the Niners are further along and more prepared than Dallas at the moment. The Zeke contract dispute is a distraction and certainly doesn’t help, nor does the fact that Dallas’ depth behind Dak Prescott seems very questionable. Though it is a lofty price in terms of pre-season spreads, the Niners are the value play here. Expect Nick Mullens to throw for a couple touchdowns, en route to a comfortable San Fran victory.