Dallas Cowboys

Why Ezekiel Elliott signing Cowboys contract could be bad for 49ers

Why Ezekiel Elliott signing Cowboys contract could be bad for 49ers

The last time the 49ers faced the Cowboys, running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 147 yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground in a 40-10 loss during Week 7 of the 2017 regular season. Oh, and he also scored on a 72-yard reception. 

The 49ers won't have to worry about Elliott and the Cowboys again this regular season, but the star running back still could be a thorn in their rear this year. 

After missing all of training camp while holding out for a new contract, Elliott received his wish Wednesday morning. Dallas signed the two-time Pro Bowler to a six-year, $90 million contract extension. 

How does this affect the 49ers? The Cowboys could be the final barrier in the 49ers reaching the NFC playoffs. 

With the Eagles considered the favorites in the NFC East, the Cowboys could be competing for a wild-card spot, as could the 49ers. 

Once again, the Rams are considered the favorites in the NFC West, with the 49ers and Seahawks right on their heels. Between the 49ers, Cowboys and Seahawks, that's three teams in two divisions -- with two to go -- competing for two wild-card spots. 

[RELATED: Five questions 49ers must answer to be successful this year]

NBC Sports' Peter King has the 49ers edging the Cowboys and Seahawks for a wild-card spot in the playoffs, but that could change now that Elliott is all-in before the start of regular season. 

They won't face the Cowboys until a possible playoff matchup, but the 49ers certainly wish Tony Pollard was taking carries in Dallas' backfield instead of Zeke. 

Fantasy football rankings 2019: Top 10 QB-receiver stacks to draft

USATSI/NBC Sports Bay Area

Fantasy football rankings 2019: Top 10 QB-receiver stacks to draft

Drafting a quarterback and a skill-position player from the same team can be a tricky proposition in fantasy football.

If that team goes off for 42 points, you'll likely make out like a bandit with double the points. But if that team is held in check, you're in trouble.

The other downside to having two top players from one team on your fantasy football roster is that you have to fill two important spots on the same bye week.

But having one of these quarterback-wide receiver stacks could pay off big time for you during the 2019 season.

Drew Brees and Mike Thomas, Saints

Despite throwing for under 4,000 yards for the first time since 2005, we still expect Brees to play well in his age-40 season.

Thomas caught more passes (125) than anyone last season. He's a ball magnet, and without a strong No. 2 receiver, Thomas should still see a high number of targets from Brees.

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, Falcons

Ryan and Jones are two seasons removed from reaching the Super Bowl. They combine to make one of the most dynamic young duos in the league.

Last season, Jones caught 113 passes from Ryan for an NFL-best 1,677 yards. The emergence of Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley could take some targets away from Jones, but he will still put up monster numbers no matter who's on the field with him.

Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill, Chiefs

This duo possibly has the most upside of any on this list. Both are young and have yet to reach their potential.

Mahomes is the reigning league MVP, while Hill avoided a major suspension at the hands of the NFL following an incident involving his child.

Hill caught just 87 passes last season, but turned that into 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's a big-play machine and as explosive as any player in the league. If he's on the field, expect big things.

DeShaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, Texans

If you polled experts and asked them to pick the best wide receiver in football, a good number of them would pick Hopkins. Last season, he caught 115 passes for 1,572 yards.

Watson finally was able to play an entire season and showed what he's capable of by throwing for 4,165 yards. But he's still got room to improve. Expect big things from Watson and Hopkins this season.

Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr., Browns

This is the biggest wild card of the group. We all know what OBJ is capable of. When he was motivated in New York, he was a monster.

Mayfield had a good rookie season, and most experts expect him to take the next step this season. With two legitimate options in Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, Mayfield should put up huge numbers.

Aaron Rodgers and DeVante Adams, Packers

The Packers made a big change at head coach, replacing Mike McCarthy with Matt LaFleur, and they are hoping it pays off with Rodgers and Adams.

Last season, the duo connected on 111 passes for 1,386 yards. Green Bay will need more of the same in order to get back to the playoffs.

Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen, Vikings

Thielen has been one of the biggest surprise stars over the last three seasons. Last year, he caught 113 of the 153 balls thrown to him for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns.

Surprisingly, Cousins finished with the second-best completion percentage (70.1) in the league last season.

Derek Carr and Antonio Brown, Raiders

A lot of "ifs" surround this duo.

If Brown's frostbitten feet heal and if he can find a helmet he likes, he should continue to be a dominant, game-changing force.

If Carr can regain his former from 2016 when he threw 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions, the Raiders should bounce back from a disappointing 4-12 season.

Carr and Brown have the chance to be an electric combo, but they must perform to the best of their abilities.

Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, Cowboys

Cooper's disappointing 2018 season turned around when the Raiders traded him to the Cowboys. In nine games with Dallas, the former first-round draft pick caught 53 passes for 725 yards and one touchdown.

Prescott might not get the massive contract he's looking for, but in a full season with Cooper, he should put up big numbers. That will certainly help his case for a payday.

Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers

With Antonio Brown out of the picture, Smith-Schuster becomes the No. 1 target for Big Ben, so you can expect numbers similar to his 111 receptions and 1,426 receiving yards from last season.

Roethlisberger led the NFL with 5,129 passing yards, but that was obviously boosted by Brown. Without the All-Pro, defenses could double-team Smith-Schuster and limit his impact.

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Why Peter King has 49ers edging Seahawks, Cowboys for NFL playoff spot

Why Peter King has 49ers edging Seahawks, Cowboys for NFL playoff spot

In two seasons under coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, the 49ers haven't come close to making the playoffs.

Last season, San Francisco finished with a 4-12 record, good for 15th place in the NFC.

While the goal always should be to make the playoffs, the 49ers should set a modest goal of trying to get back to the .500 mark which they haven't achieved since 2014.

But with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo and a beefed-up defensive front seven, NBC Sports' Peter King believes the 49ers will be the sixth and final playoff team in the NFC this year. King has San Francisco beating out the rival Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys for the last wild-card spot.

Here's how King justified his prediction in his latest Football Morning in America column:

"When I wrote my first version of the picks on Friday, I had the Niners as sixth seed, ahead of Seattle and Dallas. Then I almost recency-biased my choice with the news of Clowney to Seattle, addressing a huge need, and the likelihood that Ezekiel Elliott is on the verge of signing with Dallas. The Seattle offensive line east of left tackle Duane Brown still scares me, and the secondary is just as shaky, and I’m not sure who emerges as a suitable heir to Doug Baldwin.

Seattle could have a 10-win team, but I’m banking on Jimmy Garoppolo playing 16 games and being the top-10 quarterback I think he is, and on the Niners finally putting the pieces together on defense after using so much draft and trade capital there. Dallas is tough to forecast. The Cowboys have football’s easiest opening slate (Giants at home, at Washington, then Miami at home), but Dallas also has the Saints, Bears and Patriots on the road and the Rams at home, so the schedule will even out. Wild card for Dallas is how the contract stuff impacts them. It’s wearying to read about that stuff day after day; will it continue into the season?"

Last season, it took nine wins to qualify for the NFC playoffs, and in the AFC, nine wasn't even enough.

[RELATED: Breaking down the 49ers' 53-man roster]

If the 49ers can jump from four wins to nine, whether they make the playoffs or not, Shanahan and Lynch should be thrilled.

But King's prediction will be music to the ears of the 49ers Faithful who have been longing to get back to the playoffs.