49ers

49ers key matchup No. 3: Willis vs. Pettigrew

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49ers key matchup No. 3: Willis vs. Pettigrew

(This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Lions matchups to watch Sunday, 5:20 p.m. (NBC-TV), at Candlestick Park.

49ers LB Patrick Willis vs. Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew

Tale of the tape
Willis (52): 6-foot-1, 240 pounds, sixth season, Mississippi
Pettigrew (87): 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, fourth season, Oklahoma State

While All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson will get most of the attention, another
matchup in the passing game might dictate how the 49ers plan to defend Johnson.A year ago, the 49ers locked Willis -- and, to a much lesser degree, NaVorro Bowman -- onto Pettigrew in man coverage. That allowed the 49ers to devote a safety over the top to help cornerbacks Tarell Brown, Carlos Rogers and Chris Culliver contend with Johnson. Each of those cornerback covered Johnson at some point in last year's game, depending on what side of the field Johnson lined up."If you're going to pay any extra attention to (Johnson), which we'll have to do sometimes, you can't do it all the time," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "You can't even do it the majority of the time. That's going to create one-on-ones for them at other positions."Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford tried to take advantage of the single coverage against Pettigrew, targeting him for 14 passes. Pettigrew caught eight passes for just 42 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown. Willis more than held his own with seven tackles and three passes broken up."So we've got to be able to hold up. And Patrick did a good job last year, for the most part, in covering (Pettigrew)," Fangio said "But he's a tough cover. He scored a touchdown on us last year down in the red zone. And he's one of the better all-around tight ends in this league. He's one of the few guys that is a confident receiver and a confident blocker."Willis sat out 24 snaps in the 49ers' dime package in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers. But the Lions do not use as many four-receiver personnel groupings as the Packers, so Willis should be on the field for nearly every snap on Sunday.AP Image

Instant Analysis: Cowboys hand 49ers worst loss in four-year history of Levi's

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AP

Instant Analysis: Cowboys hand 49ers worst loss in four-year history of Levi's

BOX SCORE

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ streak of consecutive close losses came to an end on Sunday.

No, the 49ers did not pick up their first victory of the season. Rather, the Dallas Cowboys blew out the hapless 49ers on Dwight Clark Day at Levi’s Stadium.

After their NFL-record streak of five straight defeats by three points or fewer, the 49ers were dealt an embarrassing 40-10 loss to drop their record under first-year coach Kyle Shanahan to 0-7.

It was the worst loss in the four-season history of Levi’s Stadium. The previous-worst defeat for the 49ers since the move from Candlestick Park was a 41-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints last season. The 49ers have lost 10 consecutive home games over the past two seasons.

The 49ers and Cleveland Browns, also 0-7, are the only winless teams remaining in the league.

The poor showing – and inability to slow down Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott – put a damper on a festive day for the 49ers, as Clark was recognized for his contributions to the dynasty of the 1980s.

Clark, whose leaping 6-yard touchdown catch in the NFC Championship game against the Cowboys, catapulted the 49ers to their first Super Bowl. Now 60, Clark is battling ALS. He delivered remarks to his former teammates and the crowd during a halftime ceremony.

But when the second half opened, Elliott had a 72-yard touchdown reception from Dak Prescott to give Dallas a 27-3 lead. Elliott had a big day against the 49ers, as he also rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 26 rushing attempts.

The Cowboys did not need much of an opening, but they took advantage of some critical 49ers miscues in the first quarter.

After the 49ers’ defense forced a three-and-out on the opening drive with DeForest Buckner swatting down two passes at the line of scrimmage, rookie Trent Taylor gave it right back when he fumbled a punt.

The Cowboys took over and drove 20 yards on three plays with Elliott scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run.

On Dallas’ next possession, 49ers cornerback Rashard Robinson surrendered 17 yards on a pass-interference penalty. Then, Robinson’s illegal contract penalty nullified a 15-yard loss for intentional grounding.

Elliott, again, wasted little time as he scored on a 25-yard touchdown to give the Cowboys a 14-0 lead with 7:57 remaining in the first quarter.

BEATHARD’S FIRST START
Rookie C.J. Beathard was beat up in his first NFL start after taking over for struggling veteran Brian Hoyer last week.

Beathard, a third-round draft pick from Iowa, completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Beathard also rushed five times for 30 yards and touchdown.

But Beathard was under constant harassment, as he was also sacked five times for minus-48 yards and lost two fumbles.

INJURY REPORT
Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster started as he made his first appearance since the opening game of the season, when he sustained a high right ankle sprain. But Foster exited in the third quarter with a ribs injury to his right side.

Foster recorded five tackles, including one for a loss, in his most extensive playing time of the season.

Right tackle Trent Brown left the game in the second half and was diagnosed with a concussion. Brown was pass through the NFL’s concussion protocol in order to be cleared for the 49ers’ game next Sunday at the Philadelphia Eagles.

THIS ‘N’ THAT

--Fullback Kyle Juszczyk (back) and pass-rusher Aaron Lynch (calf) were among the 49ers’ seven inactive players.

--Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who came into the game with a league-leading 8.5 sacks, moved to the other side of the line and beat left tackle Joe Staley for a sack-strip to thwart a 49ers scoring chance late in the first half.

Battling ALS, Dwight Clark happy to see 49ers teammates 'one more time'

Battling ALS, Dwight Clark happy to see 49ers teammates 'one more time'

SANTA CLARA – Former 49ers wide receiver and team executive Dwight Clark, who is battling ALS, made remarks at halftime during Dwight Clark Day.

Clark, 60, met with dozens of his former teammates before the game. More than 35 players off the 49ers' first Super Bowl champion were on the field, as Joe Montana introduced Clark.

From a suite at Levi’s Stadium, Clark made the following remarks:

“Hello, my 49er Faithful!

“I want to thank you for all your support when I was a player. And I think you all know I’m going through a little thing right now. And I need your prayers and thoughts, and I appreciate those you’ve given me.

“I’d like to thank the York family for putting this day together. These are unique days. Having all the players flown back in here so I could see them one more time, passing out the T-Shirts. It’s a big day and I’m very appreciative Jed did that for me.

“When Keena Turner asked me what I wanted to do to raise money or have some kind of function. I said I just wanted to see my teammates. And the 49ers heard that and flew all these players in, so I could see them one more time.

“I obviously want to thank my family. It’s been a tough year, and they’ve been through a lot. Of course, they supported me when I was a player. But now they have the support in a different way. I want to thank my daughter Casey, my son, Mack, my brother, Jeff, and his family. And I appreciate all the support they’re given me over these trying times.”

Clark said former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo created a family with the 49ers. And DeBartolo is still taking care of his former players.

“He’s called all over the world trying to find the best remedy for ALS,” Clark continued. “He sent me to Japan to get medicine there. . . I could never, ever thank the DeBartolo family and Eddie D (enough).”