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Cowboys vs 49ers NFL Divisional Round: QB matchup | Dak Prescott vs Brock Purdy

As the Dallas Cowboys take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional round, we look at how the play callers stack up against each other

As the Dallas Cowboys take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional round, we look at how the play callers stack up against each other

This NFC Divisional matchup between the Cowboys and 49ers offers so much in the way of classic contests. “America’s team” versus the West Coast upstarts who in fact displace them for that title in the eyes of many fans. A solid championship side versus a plucky underdog. And even, when you think about Jerry Jones and Mike Shanahan, the old guard versus the new generation.

But none are more evocative than the one playing out under center. The proven veteran against the sparkling rookie sensation.

A void to fill

The 49ers have had a mammoth lineup for several years now. The one piece that they have been lacking is the quarterback.

While Jimmy Garoppolo is the steady hand, the solid veteran on the squad, there has been a palpable lack of faith in his ability to take the 49ers past the opening playoff rounds. He was benched for a young talent pipped to be the future of the franchise in Trey Lance, and when injury sidelined Lance in week two, Jimmy G had what was maybe his last chance to lay claim to the quarterback job.

Garoppolo did a lot of the heavy lifting to bring the 49ers to where they are, going 7-3 before a broken foot saw him out at the beginning of December. And so the number three got his chance.

Brock Purdy

Let’s face it, this was never on the cards for Brock Purdy. Last year’s Mr Irrelevant was meant to watch and learn for several years before getting any reps in a game at all. Taking over the starting role, particularly at a time when the entire season is riding on the game, was a daunting task to say the least.

But Purdy has been up to the challenge. He stepped into that week 13 game against Miami and threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns. The following week, he beat Tom Brady in his very first NFL start. In fact, throughout the last four weeks and into the playoffs, every hurdle placed in front of Purdy has been effortlessly vaulted.

So far, he has been the perfect embodiment of Joe Montana’s message. When asked what advice he could give the rookie, Montana said, “You don’t have to win the game. You have guys around you who can win the game. You’ve got a really good team around you, you just have to be the mailman. Give the ball to the guys that can run.”

Dak Prescott

The Cowboys have the flip side of that coin in Prescott. A proven veteran who knows how to win football games, often single-handedly. Prescott may have some talent around him, but the Cowboys are nowhere near as solid a team as the 49ers are. It is a testament to his talent that their offense is as explosive as they have been.

Since returning from injury in week 7, Prescott has led the Cowboys on an insane run of high-scoring games. They were sluggish on defense, leading to some close calls, but in the Wild Card round, they looked like they were finally firing on all cylinders.

Prescott’s strong arm and good mobility means that no play is really over until he is on his back. Just because a defender gets his hands on Prescott, doesn’t mean that he has been sacked. Dak has been known to make and complete passes in the most awkward of positions.

The biggest asset for Dak Prescott is that he has been there before. He is a six-year veteran out of Mississippi State and has been a thorn in the side of NFL defenses since he got the starting role in his second year in the NFL.

As a pure pocket passer who makes all the right decisions, Prescott is one of the best in the game.

Head to head

The Cowboys are at a serious disadvantage to the 49ers all over the field, but this is one contest where the veteran has the edge. While Purdy has gobbled up every challenge placed in front of him so far, you can’t know how the pressure, the situation, and the Cowboys defense will affect him. You can’t even be sure of his durability, since this will only be his sixth start.

Dak will not be shaken by anything that the 49ers throw at him. Perhaps Purdy will show the same poise. But the fact that there is still a question mark means that you have to err on the side of Prescott in this head to head contest.

While the 49ers should be able to beat the Cowboys in the Divisional Game, Dak Prescott, and Dak Prescott alone, will make life very difficult for them.


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