Be careful what you wish for, Dallas Cowboys.
As fallout lingers from the blowout loss at San Francisco, the Cowboys are so deep into their feelings about the 42-10 result that it’s fair to wonder if they are capable of recovering – physically and mentally.
During his podcast, “The Edge with Micah Parsons,” the Cowboys’ star linebacker took exception to the “(expletive) Dallas” T-shirt that 49ers tight end George Kittle wore under his jersey as he scorched Dallas for three touchdowns. Kittle revealed his wardrobe accessory on a social media post on Monday.
“I just feel like he’s making it way more personal than it had to be,” Parsons said Tuesday. “Kittle’s my guy, but I’ma say this: laugh now, cry later. We got something for that. If we see them again, just trust.”
Trust the Cowboys? No way.
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The Cowboys, 28 years and counting since the franchise’s last whiff of Super Bowl glory, have proven (again) that they cannot be trusted as a legitimate contender. Maybe that changes by January. But that needs to be proven in the flesh as they’ve over-promised so many times before in morphing from America’s Team to America’s Biggest Tease. Such an identity remains intact about now.
At this point, any threats coming from the Cowboys about what they’ll do to the 49ers have zero credibility. Remember, Dallas was supposed to use the prime-time showcase on Sunday night as a measuring stick. And the 49ers basically took that stick and cracked the Cowboys on the butt with it.
The defense that Parsons leads? The Cowboys went to San Francisco with the unit allowing the fewest points in the league, like 10 points per game. They left as the defense that gave up six touchdowns and 421 yards and had a terrible time getting off the field on third downs.
So, again, any promises about what will happen if they see them again would be ill-advised.
Thus, the 49ers are still scoring points in this rout – of which Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said “may be the most humbling game I’ve ever been a part of” after he faltered in yet another big game – with the social media aftermath.
Deebo Samuel, the electric and versatile 49ers receiver, had a pointed response to Parsons’ take:
“It was always personal before the game started,” Samuel told Kay Adams on the “Up & Adams” podcast. “42-10, I don’t think you wanna see us again. It might be a little worse.”
Ouch. Or touchdown, 49ers.
Can we stick a fork in the Cowboys already and declare that this season is kaput? Maybe not yet. It’s the NFL, with its week-to-week reality checks. Look at what happened to Buffalo, a week after destroying the Dolphins: They went to London to get served up by the Jaguars.
This is not the time of year to draw conclusions about what will happen in January – even though it seems clear that if they stay healthy, the 49ers and Eagles will be major factors. And as long as Patrick Mahomes is in the lineup, the Chiefs have a shot.
Dallas? Perhaps the Cowboys (3-2) peaked with a 40-0 beatdown of the Giants on opening night. A week after handing Bill Belichick the worst margin of defeat in his career, blasting the not-so-good Patriots, 35-3, Mike McCarthy suffered the most decisive loss in his three-plus years as Cowboys coach.
“It’s been a wide range of performance, as wide a range that I could ever recall in a 5-week period,” McCarthy said after the debacle on Sunday night.
On paper, the Cowboys are not done yet.
There are 12 games left. Just one of Dallas’ next six opponents – Philadelphia (5-0) – currently has a winning record. A path to get back into the race in the NFC East still exists, given the two matchups looming against the Eagles in November and December. Then again, the Eagles will be just as eager as the 49ers to demonstrate a special kind of animosity toward Dallas.
In any event, the expectation correction for the Cowboys has just happened. After showing that figuratively they don’t belong on the same field with the 49ers, the Cowboys find themselves facing a must-win predicament when meeting the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on Monday night.
Never mind the subplot of facing a Chargers offense now orchistrated by Kellen Moore, the former Cowboys coordinator. It’s about survival, or at least rebounding to restore some confidence after absorbing so many blows during the humiliating loss on Sunday night.
As Kittle, of all people, pointed out on Sunday night, there’s also a pattern to watch when it comes to what happens after teams play the 49ers. Kittle suggested that there’s a residual effect.
“We’re a violent, physical football team,” Kittle said, alluding to the smashmouth style on offense that complements a punishing defense. “That’s the standard of the 49ers. Last year, every team that played us lost the next week.”
It’s a striking pattern. Including the playoffs, teams that played the 49ers last season were 0-15 in games the following week. The Chiefs won their next game after facing San Francisco last October, but it came after Kansas City had a bye week. And the Eagles had a bye week following the NFC title game, although it indeed lost in the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh snapped the “next-week” streak last month. Blown out by the 49ers in Week 1, the Steelers rallied to defeat Cleveland the following week. The next three 49ers opponents, though, followed suit with last season’s pattern and lost the following week.
Now the trend is attached to Dallas’ challenge to get back on track after a grueling loss to the 49ers.
Tony Pollard, the Cowboys running back limited to 29 rushing yards at San Francisco, was upbeat on Sunday night when assessing how they can rebound.
“Get back to work,” Pollard said. “Go back to the lab. You have to prepare. You have to get ready and brush it off. We’ll see this team again, so we have to lock in for the next one.”
See the 49ers again? Officially, that’s a maybe for the Cowboys this season.
No, the Cowboys likely can’t achieve the dream of winning a championship without getting past the 49ers. But considering the way San Francisco has owned them in recent years, the Cowboys had better be careful of what they wish for.