FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB COLIN KAEPERNICK
The 49ers quarterback did not throw a touchdown pass or even lead a TD drive in three preseason games. Field goals won’t suffice against the Cowboys, who were fifth in scoring offense last season. Unlike previous seasons, Kaepernick has a robust receiving corps. Today will be the first test of how he, coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman use it.
LB MICHAEL WILHOITE
Starting an NFL game isn’t new to Wilhoite, who started two games at the “Jack” inside linebacker spot last year. Wilhoite will have plenty of coverage responsibilities against the Cowboys, including one of Tony Romo’s favorite targets, tight end Jason Witten.
DE JUSTIN SMITH
There will be lots of attention on the outside linebackers – Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier – who will fill in for Aldon Smith during his nine-game suspension. Their success, however, will hinge largely on Justin Smith, who plays beside them. The veteran defensive end had offseason surgery for a shoulder injury that hampered him last season, and he hopes to return to his previous form.
WR STEVIE JOHNSON
The 49ers traded a fourth-round pick for Johnson, who will earn $3.65 million this season. During the preseason, he and Kaepernick still were working on chemistry. The 49ers will get an early progress report on how that relationship is coming along, especially if the team uses more three-receiver sets as expected.
S L.J. McCRAY
The 49ers entered training camp with veteran special teamers Blake Costanzo, Kassim Osgood, Ray Ventrone and C.J. Spillman. None of them are on the roster going into today's game, and it will be up to youngsters like McCray to pick up the slack. Spillman, who was picked up by the Cowboys, has been a terror as a gunner on punt-coverage units in recent seasons.
|Today||at Dallas||1:25 p.m.|
|Sept. 14||vs. Chicago||5:30 p.m.|
|Sept. 21||at Arizona||1:05 p.m.|
|Sept. 28||vs. Philadelphia||1:25 p.m.|
|Oct. 5||vs. Kansas City||1:25 p.m.|
|Oct. 13||at St. Louis||5:30 p.m.|
|Oct. 19||at Denver||5:30 p.m.|
|Nov. 2||vs. St. Louis||1:05 p.m.|
|Nov. 9||at New Orleans||10 a.m.|
|Nov. 16||at N.Y. Giants||10 a.m.|
|Nov. 23||Washington||1:25 p.m.|
|Nov. 27||Seattle||5:30 p.m.|
|Dec. 7||at Raiders||1:25 p.m.|
|Dec. 14||at Seattle||1:25 p.m.|
|Dec. 20||vs. San Diego||1:30 p.m.|
|Dec. 28||Arizona||1:25 p.m.|