5 things 49ers must clean up after beating Cowboys in Wild Card

Trent Williams #71 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers talk with referee Alex Kemp #55 (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Trent Williams #71 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers talk with referee Alex Kemp #55 (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

23. 42. 17. 123. Final

The 49ers pulled off a thrilling 23-17 win over the Cowboys in the Wild Card round, but the Niners will have to play a lot better in the next round against the Packers.

The San Francisco 49ers23-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday’s highly anticipated Wild Card matchup was a combination of many things.

It helped the Niners got out to a hot start. San Francisco’s defense was largely swarming, too, holding what was the regular season’s No. 1-ranked offense to just 17 points despite some second-half scares.

And in many cases, the 49ers simply got lucky and benefited from the numerous self-inflicted wounds the Cowboys enacted upon themselves.

Dallas committed a whopping total of 14 penalties for 89 yards during the game, and its mismanagement of the final play of the fourth quarter ensured the Niners didn’t flirt with what could have been one of the most titanic playoff collapses in franchise history.

San Francisco might not be able to afford some of its own mistakes in the divisional round when it has to travel to take on the Green Bay Packers, the NFC’s No. 1 seed and a team fresh off a first-round playoff bye.

If the 49ers hope to stand a chance against Green Bay, they’ll want to shore up some of these weaknesses quickly.

No. 5: Kyle Shanahan, 49ers will have to be more aggressive

The Niners attempted just one fourth-down conversion all game, which was an intended sneak by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo late in the fourth quarter that could have iced it if only left tackle Trent Williams wasn’t flagged for a false start.

All other fourth-down tries, head coach Kyle Shanahan either elected to punt or settle for field goals.

Fortunately, kicker Robbie Gould connected on all three of his field-goal attemps, and points are points. But it’s not hard to look back at the ebb and flow of the game and wonder if one or more of those 4th-and-short situations should have dictated a bit more aggression on Shanahan’s part.

It won’t get any easier against Green Bay.

During the regular season, the Cowboys surrendered a successful fourth-down conversion 61.5 percent of the time, which ranked 25th in the league. In contrast, the Packers allowed a fourth-down success rate of 45.5 percent — eighth best.

Still, Shanahan and his squad need to be more aggressive in those situations and embrace the “fortune favors the bold” mantra against Green Bay.