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Cowboys vs 49ers comes down to big plays and clean tackles

For as much praise as the Cowboys defense has been getting this season, they’ve developed quite the reputation for giving up big plays as of late. Even before the horrific regular season finale in Washington, Dallas’ big play issue was becoming a trend. As Bob Strum from the Athletic pointed out, their big-play allowance rate over the previous three games grew from 2.4 per game to 5.3.

A likely byproduct of their unrest at CB2, Dallas was facing the consequences for their constant testing of Anthony Brown replacements. In the wild-card round against Tampa Bay, they rolled out their solution.

Employing heavy 2-high looks, the Cowboys capped the top to prevent receivers from beating them deep. Dallas also moved DaRon Bland, their second-most trusted cornerback, out to the boundary and inserted safety Israel Mukuamu, a college cornerback, to play in the slot.

Against the run-heavy 49ers, that same coverage-focused defensive scheme may not be possible.

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