Dallas Cowboys (2-1) at San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
SERIES HISTORY: 35th meeting. San Francisco leads the series 17-16-1. Dallas has won three of the last four meetings. Dallas won the last meeting in San Francisco 27-24 in overtime in 2011. A Cowboys would win would give them three in a row for the first time since 2014 and have them 3-1 for the 22nd time in franchise history.
Tight end Je'Ron Hamm of the San Francisco 49ers was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster on Saturday, the team announced.
To make room for Hamm on the roster, running back DuJuan Harris was released.
The 6-3, 236-pound Hamm joined the 49ers when he was claimed on waivers from the Washington Redskins on Dec. 30, 2015. He was released on Sept. 3, but signed to the practice squad the following day.
Hamm played college ball at Louisiana-Monroe, where he had 111 receptions for 1,587 yards and 10 touchdowns during his career.
KEYS TO THE GAME: San Francisco was gouged for huge plays by the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3 and a defense that looked like gangbusters in the season-opener is losing traction quickly. The bulldozing offensive line of the Cowboys helped RB Ezekiel Elliott to his first 100-yard game Sunday night against the Cowboys. The ball-control offense takes few shots down the field without play-action, but if rookie QB Dak Prescott gets good protection the 49ers' secondary can be challenged over the top.
Critical to Prescott taking calculated chances is the health of top receiver Dez Bryant (knee), who had three catches for 40 yards last week and takes attention away from other receivers. Bryant has a hairline fracture, but the Cowboys claim he could play in a limited role.
Third down is becoming a major area of concern for the 49ers' offense. QB Blaine Gabbert was only 14-of-25 passing for 119 yards and an interception at Seattle but repeated threw passes short of the sticks on third-and-long. With a solid offensive line -- only two sacks allowed this season -- Gabbert has more time to survey the field against a modest Dallas pass rush.
The Cowboys can zero in on running back Carlos Hyde, who scored twice but gained 67 of his 103 rushing yards last week with San Francisco trailing by 28 or more points. Hyde isn't a big-play threat but has the power and short burst to chew up yards in chunks.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliot vs. 49ers run defense: The 49ers are allowing 122.7 rushing yards per game (23rd). Elliott is tied for second in the league in rushing with 274 yards coming off his best game of the season Sunday night. He leads the league in first downs with 19. With Bryant hurt, the Cowboys are likely to skew conservative and keep the ball on the ground.
-- 49ers RB Carlos Hyde vs. Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee: Hyde is the best weapon on the 49ers' offense with 225 yards rushing and four touchdowns. San Francisco needs to get him going against a run defense giving up just 89.3 yards per game but 4.8 yards per rush. Lee leads the team in tackles with 32.
INJURY REPORT: COWBOYS-- Out: G La'el Collins (toe), QB Tony Romo (back). Questionable: WR Dez Bryant (knee), DE Jack Crawford (shoulder), T Doug Free (quadricep), LB Andrew Gachkar (neck), S Jeff Heath (knee), LB Mark Nzeocha (Achilles), CB Orlando Scandrick (both hamstrings), T Tyron Smith (back). 49ERS -- Out: CB Jimmie Ward (quadricep). Questionable: TE Garrett Celek (back), TE Vance McDonald (hip)
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Cowboys WR Brice Butler - Acquired last season from the Raiders but slow to assimilate to the offense, Butler is expected to fill in for the injured Bryant in based offense. This time, Butler says he is more than ready for an increased role. "Dez is Dez. He is a monster," Butler said. "But I feel like I can produce. I'm a big due. I got speed. I can catch the ball with my hands. I can get in and out of my routes. I'm ready."
FAST FACTS: Without Romo and Bryant since 2014, the Cowboys are 0-6, averaging 17.2 points per game. ... Cowboys WR Cole Beasley has 20 catches for 213 yards, putting him well on pace for career highs in catches (107) and yards (1,136).
PREDICTION: The Cowboys are 2-1 without starting QB Tony Romo because the offensive line and defensive line have been solid against mediocre competition. If Dallas stays above the level of its challenger the Cowboys can move to 3-1 with a difficult three-game stretch ahead -- Bengals, Packers, Eagles.
OUR PICK: Cowboys, 28-17.