SANTA CLARA (AP) — Despite having an apparent need for a mobile quarterback to run coach Chip Kelly’s offense, the San Francisco 49ers showed little interest in Dak Prescott leading into this year’s draft.
“They’re probably one of the teams I talked to the least,” Prescott said.
The Niners (1-2) might regret that move now as Prescott has shined for Dallas (2-1) in place of the injured Tony Romo. Prescott will get a chance to show the Niners what they passed up when the teams meet Sunday.
“Going in the fourth round, everybody passed you over a couple of times,” Prescott said. “I’ve got a chip on my shoulder. I have throughout my whole life, but the draft process definitely made it grow a little bit.”
Prescott threw his first TD pass last week and has no interceptions on 99 passes so far to go with a 93.3 rating. San Francisco’s starter, Blaine Gabbert, hasn’t been nearly as effective . He is last in the NFL in yards per attempt (5.5), second worst among starters in completion percentage (55.2 percent), and third worst in passer rating (68.6).
San Francisco targeted the trenches in the first round by taking defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and guard Joshua Garnett. The Niners then took one of Prescott’s teammates from Mississippi State in the third round in cornerback Will Redmond, who has not played as he recovers from a knee injury. They then took another cornerback, Rashard Robinson, in the fourth round, two spots ahead of where Dallas took Prescott.
“We looked at him just like all quarterbacks in the draft and we were really impressed with him and thought that he was someone that could really play in this league,” Kelly said. “Where it fell in terms of what we were taking, he was kind of slotted around where he got taken. That’s kind of where we thought he was going to go. But, I’ve been very impressed with him.”
The Niners eventually selected a quarterback when they chose Jeff Driskel in the sixth round. Driskel was cut before the season.
Here are some other things to watch when the Cowboys visit the Niners:
DEZ’S STATUS: Dez Bryant has a hairline fracture of a bone in his right knee, and it appears he won’t play after an eventful week. The 2014 All-Pro essentially went AWOL for two days, missing medical appointments and team meetings before finally showing up Wednesday and getting the MRI that revealed the injury.
Coach Jason Garrett said Dallas players have missed no time with the same injury in the past, but Bryant missed the first two practices of the week. If Bryant doesn’t play, it will be the 2014 All-Pro receiver’s eighth game missed since the start of last season, which was plagued by a broken a foot and ankle and knee issues.
SECOND-STRING SECONDARY: With cornerback Jimmie Ward sidelined by a quadriceps injury, the Niners will need to find a new starter across from Tramaine Brock. Third-year player Keith Reaser and Robinson are competing to replace Ward against the Cowboys. That task could be a little easier if Bryant can’t play.
PROTECTING PRESCOTT: Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith missed last week’s Chicago game when his back tightened up late in the week. He also missed the first day of practice this week. Second-year player Chaz Green, who missed all of his rookie season with a hip injury, had two holding penalties and a chop block in his first career start against the Bears. But he generally got high marks from Garrett. Left guard La’el Collins is out with a right big toe injury, so former starter Ron Leary will fill in for the player who replaced him.
SPLIT PERSONALTY: For the past two seasons, the Niners have had a split personality on defense. San Francisco has allowed a league-low 15 points per game at home in that span, compared to a league-worst 33.5 on the road. This year, the difference is even starker. After shutting out the Rams at home in the opener, San Francisco allowed 83 points in losing back-to-back road games at Carolina and Seattle.
“Those are interesting stats, but I really wouldn’t know the answer to the reasons why,” defensive lineman Arik Armstead said.
RUNNING AGAIN: The Cowboys stuck with the running game the first two weeks even though the numbers didn’t look great. They had the stats to show for their persistence against the Bears. Rookie Ezekiel Elliott ran for 140 yards on 30 carries to lead the team’s 199-yard effort. “I think I’m way more comfortable than I was Week 1 for sure,” said Elliott, who leads the NFC with 274 yards rushing. “I’m definitely settling into the system.”
The Niners have their own star back from Ohio State in Carlos Hyde, who has rushed for 225 yards and four TDs through three games.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Frisco, Texas, contributed to this report