December 9 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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As per what has become the norm, the 49ers got off to a slow start. On six plays they drove down to the Cowboys 28 yard line, where Jeff Chandler missed his first of two field goals. Their offense would be unable to get the ball into scoring position again until there were about nine minutes to go in the first half, and later in the half missed their second field goal.
Unable to capitalize on good field position, and a first half interception the 49ers offense made some adjustments at half time, and began to turn things around. The biggest change came in the way the offensive line finally began to protect Jeff Garcia. The added protection allowed Garcia to throw for three touchdowns on the day, going 36/55, being nearly flawless with the game on the line.
The running game was nothing to write home about. While the Cowboys have one of the best rush defenses in the league, the injury to Garrison Hearst was what really hurt the 49ers. Paul Smith stepped in and did an admirable job protecting the football and acting as a key receiver out of the backfield on two consecutive plays.
The receiving core stepped up its production. Owens accounted for 123 yards via his 12 receptions, and scored two touchdowns. Tai Streets made a long TD grab too, as he caught 6 passes for 36 yards. Eric Johnson stepped back into the offense catching 8 passes for sixty yards. It was one of the best all around performances from this group in recent games.
While the offense started slow, they finished strong for the first time this season. They had no help from the special teams, but the defense kept them in it until late in the game, when the offense finally began clicking.