Yesterday's game left me a little baffled and a little frustrated. The 49ers left points on the field numerous times and once the Cowboys offense began clicking, it was all over from there. TO made Nate Clements look like a rookie and the Mike Martz offense seemed to favor the pass way too heavily in the red zone (more on that coming Wednesday from Florida Danny).
Problems still exist and nobody would question that. However, I don't think there's anything wrong with looking at the good to come from the game. Mike Sando does something similar at his ESPN blog called Silver Linings and I'd imagine his will be up sometime soon. Consider this more a look at performances that gave me pause to think about guys who could be contributors next year and beyond.
Chilo Rachal: As Barrows pointed out, Rachal had no penalties and seemed to do a pretty decent job in his first career start. Although (and correct me if I'm wrong), wouldn't offensive tackles be more likely to be penalized than guards? Hill ended up on his butt a little too often but I still think Rachal is starting to show us something. If we can have this kind of young player at right guard going forward for the foreseeable future, it makes life a lot easier for developing that o-line.
I'm assuming Rachal will continue to start, and if so, he faces a tough matchup this coming weekend in Buffalo. He'll be facing off against DT Marcus Stroud, although Brian from Buffalo Rumblings indicated to me that the Bills will use a lot of stunting and blitzing (more previews from Brian coming on Friday). The Cowboys brought a strong pass rush so Rachal has certainly been tested. We'll see what kind of game he brings if the blitzes and stunts are free-flowing.
Manny Lawson: Barrows also mentioned how the 49ers need to figure out what they can do to keep Manny Lawson on the field for 3 downs. Any thoughts on that? He's clearly making a strong recovery from the ACL injury with some impressive showings the last few weeks. Yesterday he had a tackle, a sack, a pass deflection and a fumble recovery.
It seems like he's always been considered more of a pass coverage guy than a pass rusher. However, I've always wondered why they don't use him more in pass rushing. While he's a large individual it's more length than width. Is it possible he's too tall to be an effective pass rusher in the traditional sense? He's 6-5 and from what I saw of him in training camp, it's all legs. It almost makes more sense for him to be in coverage since he needs to cover greater distances. Anyways, the good news is we're seeing increased production from Lawson. If they can turn him into a more effective player first THROUGH third down, the 49ers will be a much better team for it.
Dominique Zeigler: Early in the game Troy Aikman criticized Zeigler on a player where Zeigler seemed to stop trying to get open. Late in the fourth quarter, he was quick to praise when Zeigler continued across the field to get open. The word on the street (Maiocco and Barrows) is that Zeigler has phenomenal hands. He hasn't had a ton of opportunities to showcase that skill but I really hope we continue to see more of him going forward.
I'd imagine Battle will probably be back this coming weekend, but Morgan seems less likely given that it's a groin injury. That means Zeigler should continue to be on the active roster. Even if he's not a reasonable answer going forward, the 49ers need to figure this out. If his hands are as good as people say, I don't see why he couldn't be a solid possession receiver for the team. He's a bit lanky but he has decent size to get up after the ball. Do people see him as any sort of answer to any question going forward? Or is it way too soon to tell?
Feel free to throw out other guys you saw good things from that we'd like to see more of going forward. We can discuss the likes of Shaun Hill ad nauseum. It's a little more interesting to look at some of the other guys out there.