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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
September 25, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CAR at MIA NOR at MIN Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM

Prediction: Dallas 27, San Francisco 10

The 49ers could use a better sense of timing. They had to travel to Philadelphia after the Eagles were coming off a frustrating loss to the Falcons and now they host the Cowboys who are coming off a last minute collapse that allowed the Redskins to post 14 points in the final four minutes. There is little chance that the Cowboys will think 13 points "is good enough" anymore, particularly since Parcells is now 77-1 in games where he led by 13 points in the fourth quarter.

Update: I have added Trent Smith in as another tight end for the 49ers. With Eric Johnson now on IR, the team will be searching for a pass catching option and so far that has not been Bajema. He may do nothing but he is worth watching this week to see if he brings anything to the game. The 49ers had picked up Smith off waivers from the Ravens but have had him inactive for the first two games.

Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
1 28-24 @SDC 10 Nov 14 @PHI
2 13-14 WAS 11 Nov 20 DET
3 Sep 25 @SFO 12 Nov 24 DEN
4 Oct 2 @OAK 13 Dec 4 @NYG
5 Oct 9 PHI 14 Dec 11 KCC
6 Oct 16 NYG 15 Dec 18 @WAS
7 Oct 23 @SEA 16 Dec 24 @CAR
8 Oct 30 ARI 17 Jan 1 STL
9 Open Bye M THU SAT
DAL Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Bledsoe 0 0 270,2
RB Julius Jones 90,1 20 0
RB Anthony Thomas 20 0 0
TE Jason Witten 0 50,1 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 60 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 90,1 0
WR Patrick Crayton 0 50 0
PK Jose Cortez 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: While it was only a one point loss, it was to the Redskins playing in Dallas on the evening that Aikman, Irvin and Smith were inducted into the ring of honor. That should help the team focus this week, to put it mildly.

Quarterback: Drew Bledsoe ended the Monday night game with 261 yards and one score which couple with week one gives him a bigger statistical standing than was expected so far. The reality in that was that Bledsoe was unable to move the Cowboys late in the game Monday when they needed it most and 70 yards and the score came on one play to Terry Glenn. Bledsoe has been solid but he hasn't been a savior in the one game needed this season.

Running Backs: Going against the tough Redskins defense last week, Julius Jones only gained 81 yards on 22 rushes but he's running hard and effectively. Just as important, he's already had seven catches for 42 yards in two games - much higher than the primary runner for the Cowboys has done in recent years. Dallas is not using a special third down type back like Richie Anderson to drain away numbers from Jones who has almost every carry so far.

Anthony Thomas only had nine yards on five carries in the first two games - no reason to share.

Wide Receivers: If he can stay healthy, Terry Glenn could be a nice fantasy surprise this season (that being said every year he has played). Glenn ended with six catches for 157 yards and the score on Monday and was clearly the favorite of Bledsoe. Keyshawn Johnson had two scores in week one but only two catches for 26 yards this last week.

Patrick Crayton only managed one catch for five yards against the Skins though he almost had a long touchdown on one throw. He remains a favorite of Parcells and likely the fill in for when Glenn is injured. His stock would really rise if that happens.

Tight Ends: Those fantasy owners holding Jason Witten are crying right now since the star of 2004 has yet to score. Witten only had one catch for 12 yards in week one and then four grabs for 35 yards against the Skins. Notable is that his six targets were as high as any other receiver on the field for Dallas and he'll be a bigger factor in games where Dallas is challenged. That may exclude this week.

Match Against the Defense: The 49er rush defense has been pretty good so far with Westbrook's 89 yards the best allowed. Where they have failed miserably is against the pass - worst in the league. They've allowed seven passing scores and over 800 yards passing already this season. Dallas likes to run and they will with moderate success, but this game should see Bledsoe with solid numbers that could go to any receiver.

Expect Bledsoe to throw at least two scores with likely Glenn and Witten the recipients if Dallas elects to score that way. The 49ers have already allowed both previous opponents to score with tight ends. The 49ers are likely a bit shell-shocked too after the thrashing they received in Philadelphia that reminded them they are a new team with sub-standard players.

San Francisco 49ers (1-1)
1 28-25 STL 10 Nov 13 @CHI
2 3-42 @PHI 11 Nov 20 SEA
3 Sep 25 DAL 12 Nov 27 @TEN
4 Oct 2 @ARI 13 Dec 4 ARI
5 Oct 9 IND 14 Dec 11 @SEA
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 18 @JAC
7 Oct 23 @WAS 16 Dec 24 @STL
8 Oct 30 TBB 17 Jan 1 HOU
9 Nov 6 NYG . . SAT
SFO Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Tim Rattay 0 0 200,1
RB Kevan Barlow 50 20 0
RB Frank Gore 10 0 0
TE Billy Bajema 0 10 0
TE Trent Smith 0 20 0
WR Brandon Lloyd 0 70,1 0
WR Johnnie Morton 0 20 0
WR Arnaz Battle 0 60 0
PK Joe Nedney 1 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: After their big win over the Rams, the 49ers were humbled and spanked in Philadelphia 3-42 in a game that was not even that close. Back at home. they'll be licking their wounds and trying to get back on track but a 39 point loss is hard to immediately recover from so soon.

Quarterback: Against the Rams, Tim Rattay had two scores and an efficient passing game. Last week, he only had 107 passing yards and three interceptions. This week against the Cowboys he'll look to replicate what Brunell did last Monday but until he gets a rushing game that opponents respect, he'll continue to struggle.

Alex Smith made an entrance into the game last week and threw one incomplete pass. At least it was not intercepted.

Running Backs: Kevan Barlow does have the occasional nice run, but overall the offensive line play just has not given him the room to run. After two games he only has 24 carries for 56 yards but is catching a couple of passes a week. The 49ers have not had the luxury of committing to a running game yet thanks to the scoreboard and if they did, nothing suggests there would be success yet.

Wide Receivers: The 49ers have capable receivers in Arnaz Battle and Brandon Lloyd though both were smothered last week. Each is getting about a half dozen throws a week and the quality of defense is determining what that means. Lloyd had a beautiful one handed grab against the Eagles but teams are blitzing and not giving enough time for longer routes to develop.

Tight Ends: Eric Johnson is expected to miss yet another week with his foot injury and in his place, Billy Bajema will start. That means nothing really since the 49ers have yet to complete a pass to a tight end this season.

Match Against the Defense: The Dallas rush defense has been very good this season and the 49ers have almost no rushing game anyway so expect little, of course, from Barlow this week. The Cowboys have allowed two passing scores in each of their games this year and those are always the products of the long pass. The 49ers will be throwing and with enough attempts should connect at least once for a score and possibly twice.

One factor in this game will be the renewed focus (read "ass-chewing") that the Dallas secondary will get in practice this week and the "that hurt" mentality of the 49ers coming off a thrashing in Philadelphia. Like most teams, the 49ers play better at home and will certainly be in this game far better than last week but it's unlikely more than a few long pass completions will happen as a positive for the offense.