By JOSH DUBOW AP Pro Football Writer
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Dak Prescott completed all four of his pass attempts, caught one and led Dallas to a field goal in a brief cameo in the exhibition opener as the Cowboys went on to lose to the San Francisco 49ers 17-9 on Saturday night.
Prescott and the bulk of the Dallas offensive starters played one series, moving the ball 65 yards in nine plays. The drive stalled when his third-down pass in the red zone was batted at the line by Sheldon Day right back to Prescott, who lost a yard on the play before Brett Maher kicked the first of his three field goals.
Dallas didn’t have its entire first-team offense on the field as star running back Ezekiel Elliott remains a contract holdout in search of a new contract. Rookie Tony Pollard got the nod and ran four times for 16 yards on his only drive of the game.
The Cowboys also played most of their starters on defense for the first two drives, while the Niners kept about 30 players out either with injuries or out of caution. Only a handful of projected starters played for San Francisco, with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo waiting until next week to make his return from knee surgery.
Despite that approach, San Francisco had three players go down with injuries in the first quarter with swing tackle Shon Coleman (right ankle), running back Raheem Mostert (concussion) and defensive tackle D.J. Jones (knee) all getting hurt.
Nick Mullens got the starting nod at quarterback and threw for 105 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the first half in his attempt to win the backup job. C.J. Beathard threw for 141 yards, one TD and one interception in the second half before leaving with what appeared to be an injured hand.
Niners safety Adrian Colbert was ejected in the third quarter for an illegal hit on defenseless receiver Cedrick Wilson. This is the first season that replay officials in New York can eject players for illegal hits. The 49ers were penalized 18 times for 216 yards for the game.
The game had special meaning for Dallas four-time Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick, who missed all last season battling a nerve disorder. He played the opening drive in his return.
“It was a good feeling to be out there, playing with the guys and being a part of the game,” he said. “I am trying to treat everything just like a normal preseason and a normal training camp.”
JUST FOR KICKS
Maher, who missed six field goals from inside 50 yards last season for Dallas, got plenty of chances in this game as he tries to show the consistency Dallas wants from that position.
He made kicks from 25, 40 and 31 yards in the first half, while also missing another field goal wide right from 35 yards.
Niners third-round receiver Jalen Hurd made a good first impression, bowling over a defender at the goal line to score on a 20-yard pass from Mullens in the second quarter and then catching a 4-yard TD from Beathard in the fourth quarter. Hurd finished with three catches for 31 yards.
Second-round receiver Deebo Samuel had two catches for 61 yards and also drew a 25-yard pass interference call.
The bad news on injuries for the 49ers wasn’t limited to the game. The team announced that projected starting slot receiver Trent Taylor had surgery on a broken little toe on Friday and wasn’t expected back until early in the season.
The most significant injury from the game appeared to be Coleman, who had an air cast placed on his lower right leg and was taken off the field on a cart after getting hurt on San Francisco’s opening drive.
The Cowboys lost LB Luke Gifford to an ankle injury in the first half. Gifford had an interception before getting hurt.
Cowboys: Play the Los Angeles Rams in Honolulu on Aug. 17.
49ers: Visit Denver on Aug. 19.