First, the three-time Super Bowl champion with the Cowboys — who took part in some legendary moments against the 49ers during his NFL playing days — ended up calling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ romp of the Philadelphia Eagles alongside Joe Buck for Fox Sports on Sunday, January 16.
Aikman, however, clearly let it be known where he really wanted to be that day:
But that’s not the only time Aikman minced words about the Cowboys.
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On the morning of Wednesday, January 19 on 96.7 FM The Ticket in Dallas, the verbose Aikman went after his former team for their loss to the 49ers 23-17 — zeroing in on wondering why Dallas ignored one weapon on its offense against the ‘Niners.
Aikman Calls Out Lack of Targets for CeeDee Lamb
During the regular season, Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb posted the following numbers: 79 catches, 1,102 yards and 6 touchdowns — all improvements over his rookie production of 2020.
But Lamb’s numbers against the 49ers? One catch, 21 yards. Plus was targeted five times.
Aikman didn’t hold back on his criticism of the Cowboys’ usage of the 1,000-yard receiver during his radio appearance. Here’s the excerpt of what the Hall of Famer said via Jon Machota of The Athletic and what he discovered defensively from the 49ers in covering Lamb:
“San Francisco rushed four guys, for the most part. They blitzed occasionally. But they’re a four-man rush football team. But a lot of times when you say that, then you think they’re playing coverage. They mixed in some coverage, but there was a lot of single coverage on CeeDee Lamb.”
From there, Aikman criticized the play calling against the 49ers’ defense — saying it’s too much scheme over attacking the weak links on defense.
“I hate going back to (when I was playing) because nobody cares, but what I see around the league, it’s not just Dallas. I’ve seen it with a lot of teams, a lot of these offenses want to scheme things. The coordinators, it’s all about scheme, rather than ‘This corner is playing soft. He’s scared to death. Just run the route tree. Run a comeback. Run a dig route. Run a curl. Run anything.’ You’re going to complete the pass whenever you want.”
Then, Aikman pointed out how his favorite target Michael Irvin would’ve dominated against the 49ers’ defensive philosophy, saying “Michael Irvin would’ve had 10 catches at halftime if they played us the way they played CeeDee Lamb in that game.”
Who Covered Lamb on the 49ers?
According to Pro Football Focus, three different 49er defenders took on the task of handling Lamb in coverage: Rookie Ambry Thomas, veteran corner Emmanuel Moseley and free safety Jimmie Ward.
Of the three, the rookie Thomas was the one who surrendered the lone Lamb reception.
But here’s a sample of what Aikman saw: Lamb drawing soft coverage against Moseley. However, the route Lamb runs gets Moseley to sit then squeeze on the gap quick.
There was also this underthrown football that trekked Lamb’s way:
Moseley was the most targeted 49ers cornerback in the playoff win — seeing 12 footballs thrown his way. He ended up surrendering 7 catches his side. However, he allowed just 62 total yards per PFF.
The 49ers, in general, drew up a brilliant game plan to put a cap on the explosive plays on the Cowboys’ side. Not one Dallas receiver caught a pass that stretched more that 39 yards. No wide receiver caught more than six passes or surpassed 65 receiving yards (Amari Cooper led that group with 6 catches for just 64 yards).
It was more than coverage from the 49ers, though. The pass rush delivered 14 quarterback hits and sacked Dak Prescott five times — only the second time this season Prescott endured that number of sacks in a single game. There was also this key sequence that eventually got the ‘Niners to take their biggest lead of the day:
Additionally, there was this gutsy call from 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans during one more crucial moment of the game:
But again, a Cowboys legend who played 10 games total against the 49ers and had his iconic battles with the team was highly disappointed that one playmaker wasn’t involved in the game.
“The game is not that difficult. If I’ve got a great player at wide receiver and a corner is playing him in single coverage, throw him the ball. He’s going to win most of the time,” Aikman said.
Troy Aikman Blasts Team’s Usage of Star WR in 49ers’ Loss