After turmoil, 49ers open with Cowboys 

click to enlarge Alex Boone
  • Reinhold Matay/2013 ap file photo
  • Alex Boone will bring a strong presence to the offensive line after ending his holdout, but it was unclear whether he will play today.

After weeks of talk about players who won't be on the field for the 49ers' first regular-season visit to the $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys, the time has come to focus on those who will.

There's Tony Romo taking his first meaningful snap since throwing a touchdown pass with a herniated disk to set up a winner-take-all finale that he had to miss because of back surgery.

And the Dallas quarterback will oppose Colin Kaepernick, who was an unknown rookie on the sideline three years ago when Romo beat the 49ers while playing with a punctured lung.

Or how about the Niners' quartet of linebackers Michael Wilhoite, Dan Skuta, Corey Lemonier and rookie Chris Borland being among those filling in Sunday for the suspended Aldon Smith and the injured NaVorro Bowman.

And don't forget about Alex Boone, the 49ers' guard who ended his holdout after receiving a new contract this week. Boone has been an integral part of a tight-knit line that struggled during the preseason. If he plays today, it would provide stability.

Dallas also has many questions on defense, but one of the answers won't be Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly gay player who was signed to the Cowboys' practice squad this week.

Even without Smith, Bowman and possibly defensive tackle Ray McDonald after his arrest in a domestic violence case, the 49ers have the proof of three straight trips to the NFC Championship Game behind one of the league's best defenses.

The Cowboys had the NFL's worst a year ago, and have been scrambling all offseason to settle on a front seven. It certainly doesn't help that cornerback Orlando Scandrick will miss the first four games on a drug suspension.

Season opener

49ers vs. Cowboys

WHEN: Today, 1:25 p.m.

WHERE: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

TV: KTVU (Ch. 2)

RADIO: KNBR (680 AM)

Series record

Tied 16­-16­-1

Last meeting

Cowboys beat 49ers 27-24 in OT Sept. 18, 2011

2013 rankings

49ers' offense: Overall 24th, rush third, pass 30th.

49ers' defense: Overall fifth, rush fourth, pass seventh.

Cowboys' offense: Overall 16th, rush 24th, pass 14th.

Cowboys' defense: Overall 32nd, rush 27th, pass 30th.

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