5 reasons 49ers should be fearful of Cowboys in Wild Card round
By Peter Panacy
No. 4: 49ers offense doesn’t have an advantage on third down
There have been stretches this season when the 49ers offense was absolutely atrocious on third downs.
That Week 16 Thursday Night Football game against the Tennessee Titans comes to mind, and the Niners were rough in that particular department, leading to the road defeat and also not forcing Tennessee into enough 3-and-outs.
But San Francisco might experience plenty of its own 3-and-outs versus the Cowboys.
The 49ers finished the regular season in the middle of the pack on third-down conversion attempts, successfully converting 40.2 percent of tries. But Dallas’ defense, wholly resurgent after the abysmal showing it had a year ago, has been one of the NFL’s best on third downs.
Over the course of the regular season, the Cowboys surrendered successful third-down conversions just 34.1 percent of the time, second best in 2021.
Ideally, the Niners set themselves up favorably by gaining ground on first and second downs, meaning those third-down attempts will be no more than some 3rd-and-short gains to be made.