The San Francisco 49ers started the Jim Harbaugh era in winning fashion thanks to two late returns, a kickoff and punt, by Ted Ginn Jr. that put the game out of reach for the Seahawks. It is no secret that to be successful in the NFL you have to win all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. The 49ers accomplished two out of three against the Seahawks last Sunday, defense and special teams. In order to win against the Cowboys in week two the 49ers will need the offense to produce more than one touchdown and 219 yards of offense. Luckily for the 49ers they faced the Seahawks in week one who have an offense worse than the 49ers. The Cowboys will be a different story.
Part of the reason why the 49ers offense did not look like a West Coast offense is because there is still a learning curve. Another reason is Harbaugh does not fully trust Alex Smith to put the game in his hands. The first three times the 49ers entered the red zone Harbaugh rarely went for the pass in the end zone and instead opted for the run and played it safe. Going up against an offense like the Seahawks who you know won’t score a lot of points, much like the 49ers, Harbaugh leaned on his defense to win the game. Instead of taking shots down the field and in the end zone Harbaugh went conservative with Alex Smith at quarterback. Smith’s 15 completions totaled 124 passing yards which tells you there were plenty of short passes drawn up.
The Cowboys are coming off a 27-24 loss against the Jets and will be determined to not start the season 0-2. Cowboys QB Tony Romo lost the game with costly turnovers late in the fourth quarter. You can bet the Cowboys are going to come to San Francisco prepared not only to win but to win big. The Cowboys are better than the Seahawks but I think the 49ers defense can handle the Cowboys offense. However it is the 49ers offense going up against the Cowboys defense that worries me. The Cowboys defense is one of the top-five in the league lead by defensive lineman DeMarcus Ware and they will cause havoc and confusion for Alex Smith. Playing it safe and conservative on offense against the Cowboys will not work. As much as I don’t trust Smith to win games Harbaugh needs to let him loose to take shots down field and score touchdowns, not just settle for field goals. The offense will need to see more of RB Kendall Hunter to go along with Frank Gore and the passing attack needs to become an actual attack. Otherwise the game against the Cowboys could get ugly.