The difference between winning and losing in the NFL can sometimes come down to a matter of inches.
Third-year 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois learned that fact the hard way on Sunday after a 27-24 overtime loss to the visiting Dallas Cowboys.
With the Cowboys in need of a 48-yard field goal to send the game into overtime, Jean Francois’ heavily taped left hand grazed Dan Bailey’s long-range attempt. Jean Francois’ tip might have actually helped Bailey make his first field goal of the game after he missed from 21 yards in the first quarter.
It was just another frustrating aspect of the 49ers first loss under new coach Jim Harbaugh.
For many of the 49ers, including Jean Francois, the defeat didn’t sit very well. So instead of letting the disappointing outcome linger, the 49ers reserve defensive lineman came straight into team headquarters Sunday night to review the game tape.
“I had to see the mistakes,” said Jean Francois, who estimated watching the entire game at least three times. “I had to see the breakdowns and where we could get better at, especially myself. I wanted to see what I didn’t do right.”
As a whole, the 49ers defense knows it can take strides despite the Dallas game ending in a loss.
“We showed the league we can shut any one individual rusher down,” Jean Francois said, alluding to the team’s streak of 24 games of not allowing a 100-yard rusher. Dallas was held to 45 yards on 22 carries.
“I think this will help our team come together and see things clearer. We see things clear right now, but I’m talking high-definition clear.”
More Monday Notes
With Monday’s being the player’s day off, Jean Francois was one of a handful of players available during the team’s open locker period. Not to worry, Harbaugh offered plenty of insight and information during his weekly press briefing.
Much of Harbaugh’s press conference centered on the team’s search for an identity, to which the coach stated: “I think we’re in a process of finding our identity, having it click on all cylinders. We’re going to stick to our guns. In a lot of ways, disappointed like all fans, all players, all coaches. Everybody involved is disappointed but not discouraged. I feel we’re on track.”
Harbaugh said wide receiver Braylon Edwards would have an MRI on his injured knee on Monday. The 49ers coach also spoke positively about second-year wide receiver Kyle Williams, who caught a 12-yard touchdown, the first of his NFL career. “He made a heck of a play on the touchdown,” Harbaugh said. “It was an outstanding catch. Happy for him because he’s been working to dress the first game and got an opportunity, and shined.”
Lastly, Harbaugh hinted that cornerback Shawntae Spencer and safety Dashon Goldson, two 49ers starters a year ago, could have more of a role this week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Both players have been hampered with injuries to start the regular season, but Harbaugh said both will have a shot to be more involved. “They definitely have the ability and experience and license to do that,” Harbaugh said.
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