Matt Maiocco

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).”

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

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USATSI

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA – Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon did not win the right to suit up for the 49ers’ first four games. Behind the scenes, he made it his mission to earn a contributing role.

“He really started to get better with his coordination with his feet from the bump-and-run coverage and from playing ‘off.’ There’s always a light that goes on,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And we felt that for a couple weeks from Ahkello. Once he did that, he definitely earned the right to be out there.”

The plan was for Witherspoon to rotate into the action and share time with starters Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. But he played just six snaps on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis before sustaining a concussion. Witherspoon returned to action last week and played 34 of the 49ers’ 74 snaps last week at Washington. He showed enough to coninue getting significant playing time.

“He’s earned the right to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He works his tail off in practice. He’s so deliberate in his approach. Whether it was scout team, whether it was team reps, whether it was walk-through, it didn’t matter.”

Witherspoon, the 49ers’ third-round draft pick at No. 66 overall, had a pedestrian training camp. Taking his lumps in August showed him what he needed to do to get into real games in October.

“I really turned up my focus, my intent every day in practice,” Witherspoon said. “What I did in camp wasn’t good enough to be a starting corner in this league, and that’s what I learned.

“I really focused on being aware of what it takes. That’s something I implemented these last four weeks -- that every day focus and competing on every single ball, and taking the mindset that no ball’s caught on me. I think that’s really helped my game, and helped these coaches trust me, as well.”

Witherspoon expected Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to attack him. But of the 25 plays he was in coverage last week, Witherspoon saw only three passes come his way. He surrendered two receptions for 33 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Just being a rookie, I thought it was going to come, where they were going to be taking that one shot,” Witherspoon said. “I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t happen. Going up against a smart quarterback, I know he saw me out there.

“There were a few times he looked my way in coverage. I wasn’t perfect in coverage, but I think he was looking. And I thought I did a good job.”

Witherspoon (6 foot 3, 195 pounds) is comfortable lining up on either side of the field, which he did during his college career at Colorado. He said he has not put on much weight but he has added more muscle, which has allowed him a better chance to compete physically against bigger NFL receivers.

Witherspoon fully expects to be challenged on Sunday when he is expected to see considerable playing time against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Witherspoon figures Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be paying particularly close attention any time Dez Bryant lines up on his side of the field.

“They’re going to be looking at the ‘rook,’ ” Witherspoon said.

Said Shanahan, “They’re going to try to do that with all our DBs, so I don’t think it even matters who’s out there. They’re going to attack when we’re in single safety, which we are the majority of the time. They’re going to go outside and keep going out there until you stop them.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Kyle Shanahan's full sit-down interview with Matt Maiocco on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).