Maiocco's key matchups: 49ers vs. Cowboys
49ers vs. Cowboys
The 49ers open their 2014 regular season against the rival Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. 7. Check out the three most pivotal matchups within the game, according to 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco...
Matchup No. 3: Jimmie Ward vs. Cole Beasley
Jimmie Ward is making his NFL debut as the 49ers' third cornerback. With so much of the focus on Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, the 49ers figure to leave Ward alone on Cowboys slot receiver Cole Beasley -- whose chemistry with quarterback Tony Romo is on the rise -- whenever the 49ers are in their nickel defense.
Matchup No. 2: Colin Kaepernick vs. J.J. Wilcox
No NFL team attempted fewer passes than the 49ers last year. With uncertainty on defense, Colin Kaepernick might be asked to do more than he did a year ago. The Cowboys play interchangeable safeties with J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church, and believe Wilcox -- who is better suited to play in coverage -- has a nose for the ball.
Matchup No. 1: Chris Culliver vs. Dez Bryant
Chris Culliver hasn't played in a game since a difficult showing in Super Bowl XLVII. He'll be welcomed back to competition against Dez Bryant, one of the NFL's premier pass-catchers. In fact, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio considers Bryant -- who has 185 receptions for 2,615 yards and 25 touchdowns over the past two seasons -- one of the league's Top 3 receivers.