SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco 49ers scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win their preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys 24-21 on Thursday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
The late comeback win will at least somewhat soften the blow of losing five key players to injury in the first half, including last season’s number 3 overall draft pick, defensive tackle Solomon Thomas.
Starting quarterback Dak Prescott got the ball rolling for Dallas on their opening drive, throwing a 37-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Michael Gallup.
The 49ers also gave their starting passer Jimmy Garoppolo, of whom much is expected after his years in New England shadowing Tom Brady, the start. The former Patriot was quickly withdrawn after a stalled first drive in which he completed three of six passes for 34 yards.
CJ Beathard and Nick Mullens, Garoppolo’s stand-ins, shared the remainder of the game.
Beathard threw 10-for-20 for 180 yards and one interception, failing to find the endzone, while Mullens led the 49ers comeback, throwing the game-winning touchdown with 18 seconds left, after running back Jeremy McNichols had reduced the deficit.
For Dallas, Cooper Rush came in for Prescott after that first scoring drive, and threw 15 completions from 23 attempts for 145 yards and a touchdown.
Amid renewed controversy over protests against police treatment of African Americans, which dominated headlines last year, and led to US President Donald Trump calling for protesting players to be fired, both sets of players at Levi’s Stadium stood for the anthem, although 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin reportedly raised his arm throughout.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had warned his players at the start of training camp to “stand during the anthem, toe on the line.”