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Playoff Injuries and Penalties: Follow-ups

In Sunday’s crazy but rousing victory by the 49ers over the Cowboys, some of my recent observations appear to be relevant to the Packers’ current road to the Super Bowl.

Forty-niner Injuries

In a January 15 post, “That Hard-earned #1 Seed Comes with Many Benefits” (Here), I pointed out that injuries incurred during wild card weekend will likely adversely affect those teams that are moving on – meanwhile, the Packers and Titans have been resting and getting healthier for next weekend’s games.

Though the 49ers are moving on, they suffered a number of injuries that might hurt their chances against the Packers.

The most concerning one is the “head injury” to defensive end Nick Bosa, which caused him to miss the game’s second half. Bosa was the second overall draft pick in 1919. He’s a two-time pro bowler and was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2019. Though he racked up 15.5 sacks during the just-passed regular season, he came in only sixth in the 2021 AP All-Pro edge rusher voting this year. No matter, he’s the heart and soul of the San Francisco pass rush.

I assume that Bosa’s injury was a pretty bad concussion. I assume further that the Niners have a doctor on staff who will clear him for action against the Packers.

Another important 49ers player, Fred Warner, was also injured on Sunday. In 2020, the fourth-year linebacker was named both a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro.

In the first half of the Cowboys game – when Dallas ran very few offensive plays – Warner still had five tackles, and Bosa had three, including half a sack – but then both missed all or most of the crucial second half. It’s no coincidence that the frenzied Cowboys comeback effort came at a time the two were out of action.

I’m writing this on Sunday evening, so I have no idea if either or both players will be ready to go against Green Bay, though if they are, it’s likely they won’t be at 100%.

Dallas Penalties

In another prescient article, posted on 1/5/22 (Here), I took a look at the disparity among penalties called against various teams. Green Bay had the fewest (69) during the regular season, while Dallas had the most in the league (127).

Well, on Sunday Dallas put on a clinic on how to lose a game by way of penalties. The Boys managed to get flagged 14 times (not counting those that were declined) for a loss of 89 yards. Worse, the more critical the game got, the more penalties they committed. Worse still, so many penalties, and the team’s failure to make any improvements, reflects badly on Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff, who have been unable to stem the tide. I’d say that their propensity to commit penalties cost them the win against the 49ers. Will the Cowboys again blame the refs, as is their custom?

Most of these penalties were shown on replay, and they were almost all obvious and uncalled for. They varied from numerous neutral zone infractions and delays of game to several times that Dallas offensive linemen simply threw defenders to the ground. The Niners were no saints either, though their totals for the game were a relatively measly nine penalties, and for 58 yards marched off.

The entire Cowboys Nation now has six months to ponder why this pattern of excessive infractions went uncorrected over a 17-game season.

At the same time, Matt LaFleur and his staff are to be commended. Their team’s 69 penalties amounted to only 4.1 per game. And while the Cowboys’ penalties added up to 1,103 yards, Green Bay’s total was only 678 – better than all others except the Giants, Rams and Bengals. (The Football Database is a good source for these stats.)

Though the Cowboys were seeded third and the Niners sixth, it seemed like an even matchup, which proved to be the case. The query now becomes: who will the various matchups favor this coming weekend, the Packers or the Niners?

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Tom M January 18, 2022

    It seems there’s always one upset on the opening playoff round. The 49ers are this weeks winners. Playoff seeding is great and all that but it did little to help Dallas. And it will mean very little if Rodgers is outplayed by the very average Jimmy Garapolo. It’s happened before. They’ll be only one WR on the field come Saturday worth close to 25 million and his name isn’t Davante Adams. Deebo Samuel is the kind of dynamic weapon that can line up anywhere and cause matchup nightmares. And if he can stay healthy is young enough to be worth the entirety of his contract. While Adams will be over paid by the end of his first year. Think Julio Jones and AJ Green. Bosa and Warner will play. Although Warner might not be 100%. Bakhtiari was brought back to neutralize Bosa. While Alexander’s job will be the same with Samuel. Mitchell is a nice back but he’s no Dillion or Jones. Kittle has been up and down but still dangerous. The 49er secondary is average at best. This is a game Rodgers has to win. It’d be nice if he lobbied for playoff wins as much as he does MVP awards. They’ll be no blaming Kevin King or Mike Pettine this year. Mr Book Club has to get it done.

  2. Howard January 18, 2022

    Have to agree Rob, Bosa will get cleared. However; he did get his neck bent back in an awkward way. I don’t trust the first injury reports after games. Bosa could as easily have a neck or upper back injury? I think Warner is also cleared. I don’t think Warner will be close to a 100% and that can among other things (run game) open up the middle of the field for Rodgers.
    The other injury that could be a big deal is Garoppolo hurting his shoulder. I think the alleged shoulder injury came at about 3 minutes left in the first half? Garoppolo was not nearly as accurate in the second half. In fact he had several very bad throws in the second half. Garoppolo only threw about 4 or 5 accurate passes in the second half and a couple of those were quick outside screen passes. We know that Garoppolo can be inconsistent in games, but there was something wrong with his accuracy in the second half.
    Rob and PF4L are correct the Cowboys are an undisciplined team from the Head coach down. I would also add the owner in the undisciplined discussion.

  3. Deepsky January 18, 2022

    It’s sad we Packers fans have to hope the 49ers have injuries to win this game, but the Rodgers-lead Packers have played awful against the 49ers.

  4. Dean January 18, 2022

    Rumors out of SF about Garoppolo’s shoulder injury being worst than reported — we will see. Also, one would think that the shoulder/thumb injury would be magnified having to throw in the cold at GB.
    As for GB’s players coming back from injury, I’m hoping that Alexander and Mercilus can play some against SF. I’m interested in thoughts about Douglas playing in the slot — he would be a physical presence against the run. Stokes and Alexander could play the edges (both have good speed).
    As long as Clark and Campbell are 100%, I like GB’s chances against SF.

  5. Mick January 19, 2022

    You’ve got a good thought Dean about using Douglas in the slot. Stokes and Alexander have the speed on the corners. I think Douglas has better instincts with the ball in the air than Sullivan. Like you said, he’d be more physical against the run; which will be very important against the Niners. Also, maybe it would take some pressure off of Amos and Savage. Savage isn’t having his best year.

  6. PF4L January 19, 2022

    Just 4 kicks……
    Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy says he does not see his future with team as an issue.
    McCarthy said….
    “I know how to win. I know how to win in this league. I know how to win playoff games. I know how to win a championship.”
    Said the man who coached two HOF QB’s for 13 seasons.
    Now he coached a team without a HOF QB, one and done, wild card loss.

  7. Ferris January 19, 2022

    He may be annoying to some but Stephen A. Smith’s Cowboy hate is extremely funny.

  8. Mick January 20, 2022

    Just a few thoughts on the botched last play of the Niner-Cowboys’ game. Former NFL executive Scott Pioli criticized Prescott for not handing the ball to the umpire to spot on that last play. Coaches teach this as situational football. Prescott said they practice that, “we practice handing the ball to the center.” Well Dak, if that’s what you’re coached to do; then it’s on the coaches. Another thought on playoff victories in the last 25 years. Jake Delhomme (5), Trent Dilfer (5), Mark Sanchez (4), Brad Johnson (4), Colin Kaepernick (4); the Dallas Cowboys (3). According to the sports media across the land, The Cowboys are Americas’ team********LOL. (interesting notes I read from the PFT site)

  9. Ferris January 20, 2022

    Jake Delhomme. When is the last time that named was used in trivia? QB for Carolina Super Bowl year 2003.

  10. PF4L January 20, 2022

    I agree Ferris,,,Stephen A. can be hilarious at times.
    A personality can take someone a long way in life.
    In his case, about 10 mil a year or so.
    Some may think that’s overpaid, but he’s one of the hardest working guys on sports tv.
    I also enjoy Dan Orlovsky…but more for his views, and laying it down, keeping it 💯
    Ah…the playoff game on Saturday night….
    Packers vs. 49ers….
    How cool is this?
    Yea…like everyone, i have concerns and thoughts….
    But not for this game.
    Why?….you ask.
    Because i don’t care who’s injured, healthy, coming back….for this one game.
    The Packers have this game plain and simple.
    Yep…you heard it here first.
    The Packers got this game….regardless
    Again….you ask why?
    I’m a Packer Fan 4 Life, and…because i said so, that’s why.