Dallas finished twice as many drives with a turnover than ended in points against the 49ers defense, with Dak Prescott throwing interceptions to Tashaun Gipson, Fred Warner, and Oren Burks.
The 49ers’ offense, on the other side, scored on half of its drives while posting a season-high 42 points against a defense that had allowed 41 in its previous four games.
With only positives coming out of Levi’s Stadium on Sunday night, here are the winners and losers from the 49ers fifth win of the season:
Winner: Brock Purdy
Let’s all say it together: Brock Purdy is good.
Yes, he has all the weapons he could ask for. Yes, he is in a system with Kyle Shanahan scheming wide-open receivers on every pass play. Those qualifiers might be valid, but Purdy has this offense working like none of the previous five quarterbacks under Shanahan.
Purdy finished the night 17-for-24 for 252 yards with four touchdowns, leading the 49ers offense to 42 points. Oh, and he did all of that while taking only three snaps in the fourth quarter.
The quarterback finished 7-for-10 for 166 yards and three touchdowns on passes thrown ten yards on defense. Don’t forget the highlight play being a double-reverse pass finding George Kittle wide open for a 38-yard touchdown that ended up being the game-winning score in the second quarter.
The 49ers offense hasn’t averaged 33 points per game because of its weapons around Purdy. It’s because of Purdy.
Winner: Fred Warner
The entirety of the defense was phenomenal, but Warner’s performance was the stand-out. The All-Pro linebacker stuffed the stat sheet with eight tackles: one for a loss, a sack, a pass deflection, a forced fumble, and an interception - one of four turnovers forced by the 49ers.
His first impact play came at the end of the first quarter, punching the ball out of the handle of Tony Pollard, with the ball miraculously staying in bounds long enough for Kevin Givens to recover. That set up the offense up at the Dallas 16-yard-line - a drive that would end on a Christian McCaffrey goal line fumble.
Warner promptly ended the Cowboys’ next drive with a third-down sack of Prescott, forcing Dallas to punt inside its own five-yard-line to set the offense up in Dallas territory - a drive that resulted in Kittle’s 38-yard touchdown.
With the 49ers up 35-10 early in the fourth quarter, Warner maybe made his best play. Deommodore Lenoir was able to deflect a Prescott pass with the ball hanging in the air long enough for Warner to quickly change direction and get under the ball. That ended any minuscule hope Dallas had of getting back in the game.
Winner: prolate spheroids
I’m sure I’m not the only one who wondered how the ball stayed in on Warner’s forced fumble and thought that it had to be the shape of the football, which is called a prolate spheroid. I learned this, so I wanted to pass it along.
Did you also know the ball is shaped like a prolate spheroid because footballs used to be made of an inflated pig’s bladder? Well, now you do.
Winner: 49ers at the line of scrimmage
Aaron Banks was flagged for hitting Johnathan Hankins with an open fist following Christian McCaffrey’s second-quarter touchdown run.
That was almost metaphorical in how the 49ers handled the Cowboys on both sides of the ball in the trenches.
On the offensive side of the ball, Brock Purdy was sacked once, and that was more of a coverage sack than it was on the offensive line. But Micah Parsons was held quiet with just four tackles, with none going for a loss and no sacks. Dan Quinn strangely opted to have Parsons line up against Trent Williams just as much, if not more, than he did against Colton McKivitz, what would have been the better matchup. Williams naturally stood firm and held Parson to a quiet night.
The 49ers ran the ball 41 times for 170 yards, averaging more than four yards per carry, thanks to the offensive line opening holes all night. There is no better example than Jordan Mason’s 26-yard touchdown run when Kittle and Williams opened a massive gap in the Cowboy’s line, allowing Mason to scamper to the end zone untouched.
On the defensive side of the ball, it never felt like Prescott was comfortable with the ball in his hands. The 49ers hit him nine times while sacking the quarterback four times. The sacks were split evenly between the line - Kevin Givens with Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead dividing a sack - and the linebackers - Warner and Dre Greenlaw. But Prescott was constantly on the move because of the pressure the defensive line was creating all night.
With Dallas trailing most of Sunday night, it only managed 19 rush attempts for 57 yards, averaging three yards per carry. Its longest run of the game came on a 10-yard run by Tony Pollard in the third quarter when the game was out of reach.
The 49ers slaughtered Dallas in the trenches.
Winner: George Kittle
When Christian McCaffrey is scoring four touchdowns, Brandon Aiyuk is having 148-yard games, and Deebo Samuel is doing Deebo things, it’s easy to lose sight of Kittle.
But that’s when Kittle seems to have his best games.
He torched the Dallas defense with three catches for 67 yards, with all three receptions ending in a touchdown. The performance comes a week after Kittle finished with one reception on one target for nine yards against Arizona.
Kittle became the most recent 49er to set a career-high, with his three touchdowns surpassing his previous high of two - a feat the tight end has accomplished five times.
Loser: “Yeah, but who have the 49ers played?”
It was a matchup between two teams that, entering Sunday, combined to win their seven games by 150 points.
By the end of Sunday night, the 49ers more than doubled the number of points the Cowboys’ defense allowed this season. It got so bad for Dallas that Cris Collinsworth wondered if the 49ers were just that good or if the Cowboys were overrated.
Either way, the 49ers slammed the door on the allegations of taking advantage of a weak schedule after winning their first four games by an average of 17 points against teams that ended Week 5 a combined 7-13 with their 32-point win over the Cowboys.