DAL-SF grades: O-line helps out rookie QB Prescott in Cowboys’ win

Here are the highest-graded players and biggest takeaways from Dallas' Week 4 victory over San Francisco.

| 9 months ago
(Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

(Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

DAL-SF grades: O-line helps out rookie QB Prescott in Cowboys’ win

Dallas Cowboys 24, San Francisco 49ers 17

Here are the highest-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Cowboys’ 24-17 win over the Niners on Sunday:

Dallas Cowboys

Quarterback grade: Dak Prescott, 50.9

Dak Prescott took what the 49ers defense gave him and didn’t throw an interception to help the Cowboys pull out a road win in San Francisco. Prescott didn’t really push the ball down the field in the game, not attempting a single pass of 20-plus yards. Prescott wasn’t efficient to the intermediate area (10-19 yards from the line of scrimmage), as he only completed three of seven passes to that depth. Prescott did his damage in the short area (between 0-9 yards from the line of scrimmage), where he completed 17 of 21 passes and helped the Cowboys’ offense move the chains.


Top offensive grades:

G Zack Martin, 87.5

C Travis Frederick, 85.9

G Ronald Leary, 76.8

WR Cole Beasley, 72.0

WR Terrance Williams, 70.3

The Cowboys’ offensive line paves the way for the road win

The interior of the Cowboys’ offensive line produced the highest grades against the 49ers. The trio of RG Zack Martin, C Travis Frederick and LG Ronald Leary didn’t allow a single pressure on Prescott between them. They also opened some cavernous running lanes for rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott and helped him have another game with over 100 yards rushing, as Elliott had 138 yards for the game, forcing two missed tackles and earning 73 of those yards after contact.

Top defensive grades:

CB Morris Claiborne, 88.6

S Barry Church, 82.3

CB Anthony Brown, 80.7

DT Tyrone Crawford, 78.5

DT Terrell McClain, 73.8

Claiborne makes his impact felt

After four rather unimpressive years in Dallas, cornerback Morris Claiborne has played reasonably well thus far in 2016. Against the 49ers he had comfortably his best game of the year, allowing virtually nothing in the way of meaningful yardage. He was targeted three times, allowing only two catches for six yards while stealing away an interception on an underthrown deep ball for Dallas’ only turnover. He tied for third on the team with three defensive stops, including a tackle short of the sticks on what would be the 49ers’ final offensive play of the game. He’s allowed fewer than 30 receiving yards in three games this year, and while it’s fair to wonder if he’ll continue to play well against the league’s stronger passing attacks, this week was at the very least a promising sign.

San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback grade: Blaine Gabbert, 68.8

San Francisco didn’t ask a lot of its signal-caller, content to call endless zone-read plays, to the extent that Gabbert ended the game with 11 rushes (not counting one kneeldown) even though he managed just 28 yards on those carries. Given his passing wasn’t anything to write home about, and that the deep ball was non-existent (he was 0-for-2 with an interception on pass attempts of 20-plus yards), you have to wonder if the 49ers would be better off with a faster option at quarterback to take better advantage of the read-option.

Top offensive grades:

TE Garrett Celek, 83.5

WR Jeremy Kerley, 79.1

C Daniel Kilgore, 76.7

RB Carlos Hyde, 73.5

RG Andrew Tiller, 73.4

Offensive line disappoints against Cowboys’ front four

The 49ers were content to run the ball as much as they could, but against even an underwhelming Dallas defensive line they were lackluster in their run-blocking. The normally excellent left tackle Joe Staley (45.1 run-blocking grade) had trouble dealing with Jack Crawford, while second-year right tackle Trenton Brown (39.8) fared the worst of the starting five linemen. Brown was culpable for the Cowboys’ only sack (and two more hurries), when Tyrone Crawford knifed inside midway through the second quarter. He wasn’t much better in the running game, including the subsequent play where he whiffed on a block against Terrell McClain, who nearly made a tackle short of the line of scrimmage.

Top defensive grades:

CB Rashard Robinson, 92.3

DI DeForest Buckner, 82.3

DI Quinton Dial, 77.3

LB NaVorro Bowman, 76.6

ED Cornellius Carradine, 73.5

49ers defense wasn’t able to withstand the Cowboys offensive line

CB Rashard Robinson was targeted five times by Prescott and allowed two catches for only 12 yards. Robinson broke up the other three passes, and Prescott’s QB rating when throwing at Robinson was only 47.9. Bowman played well with a sack and four additional defensive stops, but was sadly carted off the field with an injury. Rookie D-lineman DeForest Buckner’s pass-rush production was a bright spot for the 49ers, as he generated one hit and three hurries on 35 pass rushes and earned a 79 pass-rush grade for the game.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: CB Morris Claiborne, Cowboys

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

  • Daniel

    Crazy that Claiborne played well enough for the game ball. He was clearly beaten on the deep pass that he intercepted when it was under-thrown. He made some basic tackles on telegraphed passes and while I agree he responded well, I just don’t think he is a viable #2 on any playoff team.

    • Blaze Gunn

      i agree and he’s beaten badly looking for the ball was a pretty lucky interception that was otherwise a TD i’m not sure what PFF is thinking or if they really watched the same game

  • GoNiners

    I’m not saying Gabbert is good or anything hinting at such an idea. But your notion that the zone-read would be better run with a faster QB is nonsense. He runs a 4.5 and was faster than Sackorpick in the combine.

  • Blaze Gunn

    Dak Prescott, 50.9? LMFAO we watch the same game? Blaine Gabbert, 68.8 while he threw a game ending Underthrown inteception is better than dak??? Dak’s QBR was 84.9 more reflective of what really happened Also Dak threw a 20 yd TD pass to Terrence Williams

    • JudoPrince

      Prescott made a couple of bad throws to open receivers on the sideline and a bad ball early that was nearly picked. Not a perfect game but certainly should be graded higher than a 50.9. The touchdown passes were absolute darts.

      • Blaze Gunn

        Yeah Dak said after the game he was expectng Witten to run a different route on the near Interception but yeah he had a few bad throws a 50.9 to say the least is pretty disrespectful if Gabbert gets a 68.8

  • 49ers fan24

    I think they watched the game guys but it doesn’t have the human element added tone stats.

    We all know that if Blaine Gabbert just threw a decent pass it would have been a touchdown not an interception.

    That’s not included in the stats.

    Actually a whole lot isn’t.

  • Mitchell

    I genuinely think it may be time to have the Romo discussion. I am not a Romo hater, I have great respect for what he has accomplished, but I feel this is time to move on. Has Dak had his issues? Yes. But, as rookie Quarterback, he has played phenomenally and well beyond his years. While Romo has one of the best TD-INT ratios all time, he does have a knack for turning the ball over in key situations. Yes, he is also top 5 all time in Game winning drives, I know. But the future is now, and Prescott’s mobility is going to allow this line to play even better, whilst Zeke’s versatility keeps the game off of Dak’s shoulder while he continues to learn. I say, let Dak roll, and let Romo continue to coach him.

  • John Doe

    Boy, your ranking system for quarterbacks needs some work there. You’re telling me Blaine Gabbert was nearly 20 points better than Prescott? Just look at the numbers, Mason!

  • Derrick

    This just doesn’t pass the eyeball test. Dak didn’t play that bad (certainly not that much worse than Gabbert), and Claiborne didn’t play that well. The yardage figures look really good, but Mo was just making unblocked tackles on screens and short throws. Those are the kind of plays a CB is expected to make, and it seems to be like those would be the very definition of the old PFF +0 grade.

    I’m really skeptical of how even several individual graders can watch dozens of different players play 80 snaps of a game, submit the data, compile it, and create a writeup in a 3 or 4 hour span. That fast of a turnaround time makes me wonder how well the data was actually recorded, especially when you’re working with of a TV broadcast that doesn’t even show the receivers and most of the back seven.

  • zinn21 zinn21

    Why would you sit on $50 million dollars in Cap space this last off season and do nothing? Why would you waste yet another knee injury pick when you are so depleted in talent? Baalke is a fail..

    Chip calls way too conservative for a team so limited in the ability to sustain drives. He needs to call more big play, deep shots downfield and Gabbert needs to take more chances. Not one trick play the entire season.. If you are going to loose 12-15 games this season why not lose aggressively instead of “chickens**t”?? Guess what, you might win a few that you would have lost…