February 8, 2023

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The Cowboys are doomed to fouls against the 49ers defense

On Sunday, Warner said the 49ers defense played to its potential.

“For the most part, it just felt like us, man,” said Warner. “Obviously we know we have to play big qualifying football to have a chance of winning this next game.”

For the 49ers, it was the first game in which rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, the last pick in the 2022 draft, looked confused. The Cowboys rush constantly put pressure on Purdy, who was sacked twice. He missed several throws, including a few that should have been intercepted had they not been brought down. Purdy said after the game that his play bothered him.

“There are times in the game when it’s like, ‘Man, I want to be better.’” said Purdy, who finished with 214 yards and no touchdowns. “But at the same time, man, it’s the NFL that’s not easy to do on your own. And so, for me, it’s like, man, I have to do my part.”

But the team’s star-studded supporting cast and head coach Kyle Shanahan’s play-call did just enough against the Cowboys defense that had the 49ers struggle to gain yards in ways they couldn’t in their 10-game winning streak to close out the regular season. Running back Christian McCaffrey scored the only touchdown for the 49ers in the third quarter, while the rest of the scoring came from four field goals by Gould.

The 49ers will make their second consecutive NFC Championship Game appearance and their third in the last four seasons when they take on the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday.

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Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones told reporters after the game that he believed the team had the advantage in the game at quarterback, but that Prescott’s struggles pushed it away.

“With Duck in the middle, I thought we had a chance to get through and compete at the highest level in this tournament,” Jones said. “I really did. That was our advantage here tonight,” I thought.

The loss added to a long list of agonizing playoff disappointments for Dallas, which has only five post-season wins since winning the Super Bowl in the 1995 season. The Cowboys have not appeared in a conference tournament since.