Former 49ers linebacker and KNBR color commentator Gary Plummer previews the 49ers opponents every week of the 2009 season on 49ers.com. For his third installment of his "Points of the Game" column, Plummer breaks down the 49ers third preseason opponent – the Dallas Cowboys.**
Out of all the road trips we'll make this year, this one stands out. Yes, it's the preseason, but we'll have a chance to check out Dallas' new stadium. I saw it last year when we were there. I drove out there and took a look at it prior to being finished and just from the outside, it was enormous. I'm happy that I won't have to go back to their old stadium ever again too.
On to the field, the 49ers will benefit tremendously from the naming of Shaun Hill as their starter. It does a bunch of things. But first, you have to understand that Hill and Alex Smith are two different kinds of quarterbacks. With that said, you know what to expect now as an offensive linemen. You know what to expect as a wide receiver. It helps you prepare a little bit better knowing who the quarterback is going to be.
I think it was a great decision. The NFL is based on potential. But as a player, all you care about it productivity. So far, Hill has just been a productive guy. Potential is one thing, but I'll take productivity anytime.
And while the quarterback situation got some clarity, the wide receiver spots have not been solidified just yet. Nobody's really stood out in the preseason. As far as work at training camp, that's a different story. Josh Morgan, I'm excited about, and what he's capable of doing this year. I think with Isaac Bruce, you know exactly what you're getting with him. He's an old man, but the guy did lead the team in receptions last year. You know you're going to have a quality receiver there. I didn't get a chance to see Brandon Jones at all because I hadn't been to training camp prior to him getting injured, but I hear he was making all sorts of plays. Dominique Zeigler is again having another great camp. He's just a guy who continues to get better. Of course, Micheal Spurlock is an exciting entity because of his ability to return kicks, run the Taser offense, and all of those little things. Arnaz Battle, what he's done is he has, each and every year, there were a few years when he was leading the team in receptions, and then he had some injury problems the last couple of years. But, he's another guy who you can always count on to continue to get better. He obviously understands the game as well as any wide receiver out there, being a former quarterback.
There are a bunch of choices for the coaches, especially considering that that's not going to be the focal point of this offense. People are concerned about the wide receiver position. The focal point, especially after what we have seen this preseason is obviously going to be the running back position.
When I look at the 49ers defense, I've liked what I've seen from Dre' Bly. I'm pleasantly surprised with him. He seems to have fit in like a piece of a puzzle to the 49ers just like Takeo Spikes did last year. Not only that, but, he's got the stereotype that all he cared about was interceptions, and there's nothing wrong with caring about interceptions, but it's also a game of blocking and tackling. Seeing him come on a corner blitz and make a tackle for a loss against the Broncos, to see him come up a couple times in the preseason and make some tackles on running backs and to show versatility with the bump-and-run as well as what he was known for which is beating the quarterbacks by playing off, he's showing all of those things. He's shown a great knowledge of the game of football number one. And number two, he's playing within the scheme. To me right now, he's the guy at the right cornerback position. I haven't gotten to see too much of Tarell Brown because of the injury as well. But it sure is good having Shawntae Spencer back, the former starter. That hurt the 49ers last year not having him at that nickel position. However it shakes out in that right corner position, to me it looks like it's going to be Dre' Bly as the starter. Shawntae Spencer and Marcus Hudson, either one as a nickel corner is a nice problem to have.
I like the fact that I've seen the 49ers defense being physical up front and they've been able to control the line of scrimmage. It's really obvious what happened offensively. Our o-line guys got bigger, they're more physical, and they're opening holes that are unheard of at the pro level. The defensive line has been playing against that all training camp. Those big boys up front on the offensive side have made those guys on the other side of the ball, our d-line, much more physical. You have one thing to do when you're going against a big offensive line; you better get low, you better get leverage, and you better use technique, or you're going to get blown off the ball. That happened to us defensively in the past. I don't see that happening to us so far because they're practicing against guys who are physical and it makes them better players.