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Sunday, September 18, 2011
Wrap-up: Cowboys 27, 49ers 24 (OT)

By Mike Sando

Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 27-24 overtime defeat to the Dallas Cowboys at Candlestick Park in Week 2:

What it means: The 49ers joined the NFC West-rival Arizona Cardinals in blowing an opportunity to take an early lead in the division with a 2-0 record. This defeat will hurt because the 49ers were leading through much of the game. Their long-running problems in pass defense are back in the spotlight after San Francisco made Miles Austin and even Jesse Holley appear unstoppable. In the bigger picture, the 49ers picked up where they left off in 2010, losing another close game. The team went 1-4 in games decided by three or fewer points last season.

What I liked: Quarterback Alex Smith found Delanie Walker and Kyle Williams for touchdowns, showing the 49ers can spread around the ball. The run defense was strong for a second week in a row. Ray McDonald had another sack. Patrick Willis and Justin Smith forced fumbles. Tramaine Brock and Donte Whitner picked off passes. The 49ers' defense roughed up Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, knocking him from the game briefly.

What I didn't like: Smith took a sack in overtime to kill the 49ers' opening drive of the period. Cowboys outside linebacker Demarcus Ware appeared to catch the 49ers off-guard by dropping into coverage, preventing Smith from throwing a quick outlet pass against pressure. The sack set up third-and-11, and the 49ers would have to punt. Smith tossed an interception earlier in the game. Frank Gore struggled gaining much on the ground for a second week in a row. The 49ers' pass defense, largely untested in Week 1 until Seattle struck for two second-half touchdown passes, too often had no answer for Austin and Jason Witten. Austin caught three scoring passes. Both players went over 100 yards for the game. The 49ers sought to improve their pass defense this season. Allowing Holley's 77-yard reception to set up the decisive field goal in overtime was a killer.

What's next: The 49ers visit Manny Lawson, Taylor Mays and Nate Clements and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3.