The upside: Even the worst defeats tend to feature a bright spot or two.
The 49ers played well enough to take a 24-14 lead in the fourth quarter, in part because they held the Cowboys to three-and-outs three times on Dallas' first four possessions.
The 49ers scored touchdowns on both red zone trips.
Punter Andy Lee finished with a 45.7-yard net average on six punts. Also on special teams, Kendall Hunter had a 43-yard kickoff return. David Akers connected on a 55-yard field goal. He ranks second in the NFL with 21 points.
The 49ers did not fumble.
The 49ers held the Cowboys to 45 yards rushing on 22 attempts.
Alex Smith tossed two touchdown passes and finished the game with a 99.1 NFL passer rating. He has completed at least two-thirds of his attempts in each of his first two starts under coach Jim Harbaugh. Previously, Smith had not put together such games consecutively since the 2006 season.
The 49ers converted eight times in 16 third-down chances.
Ray McDonald has collected a sack in each of his first two starts since the 2008 season.
Looking ahead: The 49ers visit the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3