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Bob Angelo

Thoughts On The Game
  • Writer's pictureBob Angelo

Cowboys vs 49ers: Eagles Fans Will Be Watching

I moved to the Philadelphia area in 1975. Nearly half a century later, I think I finally understand Philadelphia Eagles fans.

It’s my opinion that true Philadelphians are born with a gene that makes them hate the Dallas Cowboys. It’s passed along from one generation to the next. It also explains why lots of Eagles fans appear to be rooting for the Cowboys this weekend.

Either they really want their own team to knock Dallas out of the postseason, or they’d rather their team face the Cowboys than the 49ers next week in the NFC Championship.

My gut and recent results tell me it’s the latter.

Dallas won 12 regular season games, but played poorly and lost big in several of the 5 games they lost. Meanwhile, since integrating Christian McCaffrey into their offensive scheme, the San Francisco 49ers have won eleven straight! Many knowledgeable fans see them as the team to beat in the NFC.

So how might the Cowboys win in California? Allow the 49ers pass rush to penetrate, then catch them off guard with perfectly executed screen passes and draw plays? Check.

Isolate CeeDee Lamb on cornerback Charvarius Ward and throw it to him early and often, just as Seattle did last week with DK Metcalf? Check.

Run the ball directly at Nick Bosa and wedge or power block the beast into oblivion? Check.

The Cowboys offense needs to do all these things and more if it hopes to outscore the 49ers. But what about on defense? How will Dallas stop Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and the rest of Frisco’s skill players from scoring?

And, of course, 23-year-old rookie quarterback Brock Purdy?

Dallas’s run defense ranked 22nd during the regular season. But only the Eagles and Chiefs recorded more quarterback sacks. So if the Cowboys somehow can contain the 49ers multi-faceted, zone-blocking, stretch-run game, then they can attack the rookie QB—and he’s bound to crack eventually, right?

The same logic applies going the other way. Only the Tennessee Titans allowed fewer rush yards in 2022 than San Francisco. So if the 49ers can stuff Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, then Nick Bosa and friends will be able to tee off on Dallas quarterback Dakota Prescott.

And when Prescott feels pressured, like any quarterback, he’s more inclined to make mistakes—such as the 19 interceptions he threw this past season, most in the NFL.

In my opinion, the two key figures in this divisional contest are 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey and quarterback Brock Purdy.

Since McCaffrey joined the starting lineup, San Francisco is averaging 8 more points per game. He has surpassed 100 yards from scrimmage five times, scored 7 touchdowns, and accounted for 45 first downs, second league-wide among non-quarterbacks. When he’s on the field, he simply makes everybody else around him better!

That includes Brock Purdy, aka “Mr. Irrelevant,” a designation that since 1976 has been attached to the very last player selected on NFL Draft Day. Except Purdy isn’t playing like a rookie.

Perhaps you remember the shitshow involving San Francisco’s veteran quarterback Jimmy Garappolo that played out during training camp last summer?

Management named second year passer Trey Lance the team’s starter. They hoped to trade Jimmy G prior to Week One, which would have made his $24.2 million guaranteed contract some other team’s problem. So they sidelined him to prevent injury.

But the 49ers couldn’t find a taker. So they offered Jimmy $6.5 million fully guaranteed for one year. Garoppolo accepted. Good thing, because in Week 2, Lance suffered a broken ankle against Seattle and was lost for the season.

Garoppolo led the 49ers to 7 victories before suffering an injury of his own December 4th against Miami. Enter Brock Purdy!

“Mr. Irrelevant” rallied San Francisco to a 33-17 win. One week later, Purdy beat Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs. Then came a key divisional win on the road in Seattle… and so forth!

To date, he’s 7-0 as San Francisco’s starter. And in true 23-year-old fashion, he said he feels less pressure playing pro football than he felt at North Dakota State. Of course, he’s surrounded by some of the best skill player talent in the NFL, not the least of whom is McCaffrey. At this point, they look unbeatable.

The 49ers are favored at home this week against Dallas. Micah Parsons and Dallas’ potent pass rush will have Purdy in their sites. San Francisco’s defense has malice on their minds as well for Dak Prescott and company. These matchups look totally tantalizing.

If the Philadelphia Eagles survive the New York Giants, their fans will be watching intently.

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