The San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys square off in less than 24 hours, and while big names could decide this thing, the under the radar players are the ones who could make it particularly interesting.
I chatted with Blogging The Boys site manager Dave Halprin this week, and he offered up some thoughts on under-the-radar Cowboys to watch on Sunday. He offered up one player on offense and defense down below, and I thought it would be helpful to come up with a 49ers player on each side of the ball that is worth a watch on Sunday.
On offense, I’d have to say Matt Breida is the guy Cowboys don’t know but could know well by the end of the game. The Cowboys run defense is atrocious, and while they do get Sean Lee back this week, they will have their work cut out for them. If the 49ers are going to spring an upset, it will be in large part due to the run game. Carlos Hyde will get plenty of work, but Breida will be an important complement. Breida has been all over the place this season when it comes to carrying the ball. He averaged 2.8 yards per carry last week, and 8.8 the week before. For the season he’s averaging 4.1 yards per carry. He’ll be important in pass protection, but we’ll see what he can contribute on the ground.
On defense, I’d say Elvis Dumervil is the guy to watch. He surpassed 100 career sacks this year, but he’ll still slip off the radar for many opposing fans. With Arik Armstead and Aaron Lynch sitting out this game, Dumervil will be critical to the pass rush. He leads the team with 3.5 sacks, and has done solid work in a rotational role. I suspect we see a lot of him coming after Dak Prescott on Sunday.
Here’s what Dave had to say about Cowboys to watch.
On offense, wide receiver Brice Butler has been a big-play guy that is making in impact. The Cowboys actually need to start using him more. He's only caught eight passes on the season, but those eight passes have averaged almost 26 yards apiece. He has 207 yards on the season, including two touchdowns. That is a lot of production from so few catches. He has been especially dangerous when Dak rolls out of the pocket or is flushed out by the pass rush and it turns into a scramble drill. He's always had speed and size, his hands and consistency have been the issue. It's time for Dallas to give him some more reps and take some more shots downfield to him.
On defense, he might be under-the-radar for now, but rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis is turning into an on-the-radar guy The Cowboys selected him in the third round of the draft out of Michigan. He was a tenacious corner but because of his size many scouts thought he would only be a slot corner in the NFL. They also thought he would struggle tackling big NFL receivers. He's proving all of that to be wrong. He's playing on the outside for Dallas, has been doing a great in coverage and isn't a liability in making tackles in the running game, in fact he's been extremely good in that department. His overall play allowed Dallas to release under-performing vet Nolan Carroll.