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49ers offensive starters had a better showing than defensive starters, and it wasn’t hard to do

The defense had issues defending the run and finishing plays. Offense was business as usual—for a moment.

The San Francisco 49ers are pulling many of their starters on both sides of the ball in their preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys after one series on each side of the ball. It’s time for second and third stringers!

The defense opened the game and the Cowboys, minus Ezekiel Elliott ran all over the 49ers defensive line. The secondary was able to step in for support each and every time, but it’s not very comforting when Rod Smith of all people is getting penetration. Rookie Jullian Taylor started at defensive end, and held his own, but the line issues let the Cowboys go past midfield, even after a nice Solomon Thomas sack (set up by DeForest Buckner pressure) that should have ended the series. The Cowboys scored on a passing play where cornerback Jimmie Ward missed his man. It looked like the sun got into his eyes, but it also looked like he didn’t know where he was. I’ll let you decide.

The offense was a bit more inspiring, with Jimmy Garoppolo going back to doing what he was doing in 2017—hitting Marquise Goodwin with nice passes. Unfortunately, after a few first down conversions (and the offensive line not giving Jerick McKinnon any room to run), the 49ers were forced to punt.

The 49ers have dealt with a host of injuries early in the game. Malcolm Smith suffered a hamstring injury six plays into the game and is questionable to return. George Kittle was undercut and seemed to land on his shoulder. He went to the locker room after leaving the game. Solomon Thomas took a shot to the head and was down for a bit before getting up and walking to the locker room. And most recently, Matt Breida went down while blocking a player. He has gotten up and walked off the field to check with the medical staff.

The Cowboys have pulled quarterback Dak Prescott and other offensive starters as the 49ers defense is trickling some out as well. Both sides of the ball have work to do, especially when the Cowboys were able to have success running the ball out of the gate.