The San Francisco 49ers will try and get back into the win column when they take on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15 of the NFL season. The Niners have lost five out of their last six games to fall to 5-8 on the season.
This is a must-win game for San Francisco if it wants to stay in the hunt for the final NFC playoff spot. The 49ers sit two games behind the Arizona Cardinals going into Sunday and will likely need to win their three remaining games if they want to get in.
Quarterback Nick Mullens will have to be much better for the Niners to stop their slide. He had two turnovers in last week’s loss to the Washington Football Team that resulted in touchdowns. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is hopeful that Mullens will take care of the football after throwing at least one interception in his last five games.
San Francisco will have K’Waun Williams back in the lineup, which should give the secondary a big boost.
The Cowboys are 4-9 but still alive in the chase for the NFC East crown. They blew out the Cincinnati Bengals 30-10 last week and are two games behind Washington for the division lead.
Here are the predictions for Week 15 from Niners Nation contributors:
Kyle Posey: What was supposed to be a preview of the NFC Championship or a playoff matchup is now a battle between two backup quarterbacks and a pair of teams who could both select in the top-10 of the NFL Draft. It’s been that type of year of both the Cowboys and the 49ers. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that both of these teams rank outside the top-20 in offensive DVOA and passing DVOA. This season has shown us what happens with a backup quarterback plays for multiple games. You can only hide their deficiencies for so long.
The biggest difference between these two, and where the 49ers have the advantage, is on the ball's defensive side. San Francisco is tenth in defensive DVOA while Dallas is 25th. The Niners continue to find ways to get off of the field, as they rank inside the top-10 defensively in points yards (5th), points (9th), play (7th), time of possession (5th), and drive success rate (5th). In those same categories, the Cowboys highest ranking is 18th, with the majority of them falling in the mid-20s.
I was certain that the 49ers would run all over the Bills, but that game got out of hand too quickly. That shouldn’t be the case against Dallas, as San Francisco should have their way with a Cowboys team that just doesn’t know how to fit the run as a defense. That and poor tackling explains why the Cowboys are ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing EPA and 25th in rushing success rate.
Kyle’s prediction: I’ve picked the 49ers to win the last two weeks and have been wrong. Eventually, I’ll account for Mullens and adjust my perception of this team. That’s not happening this week, though. 49ers 23, Cowboys 17.
Rob Guerrera: As you can see from Kyle and Jas, there are a lot of reasons the 49ers can win this game that is perfectly logical and reasonable. Unfortunately, Nick Mullens is playing quarterback for the 49ers, and as we’ve seen too many times this year, he cancels out all of them. Everything has to go perfectly on every play for the 49ers’ offense to be successful, and that simply is not going to happen in the NFL - even against a defense as bad as the Cowboys’. I also expect our old friend Aldon Smith to wipe the floor with Mike McGlinchey at least once in a crucial situation.
The Cowboys aren’t going to score a ton on offense, but they have too many talented players to be totally shut down. It won’t be a high-scoring game, but Dallas should have just enough to get it done.
Rob’s prediction: DAL wins, 20-13
Jas Kang: There are only three games left in this awful 2020 season for the 49ers. We have said many times that “this is a winnable” game for the injury-depleted Niners, but we saw how that turned out against the Eagles, Dolphins, Bills, and Washington. Still, this is a game San Francisco should win. Dallas’s defense is the worst in the league, so with Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. in the backfield, the 49ers should be able to control the clock and rack up the rushing yards against the last-ranked defense against the run. Rookie Brandon Aiyuk should also get the third 100-yard receiving game of his young career.
Dallas has a good group of receivers, but Williams’ return should help lockdown the Cowboys’ pass-catchers, who will have Andy Dalton throwing them the ball. San Francisco’s defense balled out last week against Washington, and if the unit performs at a similar level, the Niners should pull out a win to keep their razor-thin playoff hopes alive.
Jas’ prediction: SF wins, 24-16