Niners game plan

Game plan, matchups to watch and injury impact for the 49ers entering Sunday's encounter with the Dallas Cowboys at Monster Park in San Francisco.


The 49ers have been the worst statistical team in the league through the first two games of the season. They own the 31st-ranked offense and the 32nd-ranked defense. Let's deal with the offense first. The 49ers have tried to get their run game going, but they have not had much success. The 49ers have averaged just 2.4 yards per carry through the first two games, with running back Kevan Barlow checking in with a 2.3-yard average. The 49ers need to be able to run the ball against the Cowboys to open things up for the rest of the offense. They have not been good at stringing together first downs. In fact, they have not been good at any aspect of offense. Quarterback Tim Rattay received pretty good protection in the first half against the Eagles, but he has to do a better job of delivering the ball on target. Receivers Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle might get some opportunities if the 49ers use more play-action passes on early downs, with the Cowboys expecting the 49ers to run the ball. Defensively, the 49ers have to do a better job of getting off the field on third downs. Opponents have converted 50 percent of their third-down plays, and all four of their fourth-down chances. The 49ers will have to first stop the running of Julius Jones, then turn their attention to getting good pressure on Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe. The 49ers have allowed more passing yards than any team in the league through two games.


--- 49ers RE Marques Douglas, who appears to be a good acquisition with his play against the run as well as a pass rusher, vs. Cowboys LG Larry Allen, who has enjoyed some big games in the past against the 49ers.

--- FS Mike Rumph, still learning the position after moving from cornerback, vs. QB Drew Bledsoe, who has the experience to make for a rough day for an inexperienced safety.

--- C Jeremy Newberry, the anchor of the line and a key to the run game up the middle, vs. NT La'Roi Glover, whose play in the middle of the team's 3-4 defense will be pivotal.


TE Eric Johnson has been placed on injured reserve due to a severe plantar fascia tear in his right foot, which will deprive the team of its leading receiver from 2004 for the season. ... Center Jeremy Newberry is expected to start again this week against the Cowboys despite not participating in full practice all week. Newberry has little cartilage in his right knee, a condition that threatens his long-term availability. ... WR Brandon Lloyd (ankle) did not practice Wednesday but returned to full drills Thursday and will be ready for the game. ... LT Jonas Jennings returned to practice Wednesday after missing the second half of Sunday's game after taking a shot to the larynx. Jennings went to a Philadelphia-area hospital, but accompanied the team back to San Francisco. ... WR Derrick Hamilton began the season on PUP, which makes him ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season. He is unlikely to play this season, but the 49ers will deal with that decision when the time ocmes.

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