SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Jim Harbaugh had the San Francisco 49ers on the verge of moving back into the spotlight with a signature victory only two games into his NFL coaching tenure before it all washed away.
Alex Smith threw an interception moments after San Francisco picked off a pass by backup quarterback Jon Kitna. The offensive line turned Smith into a tackling dummy, allowing six sacks. The defense completely collapsed.
In other words, the 49ers still have a lot of work to do.
Tony Romo returned from a fractured rib and connected with Jesse Holley on a 77-yard completion on the Cowboys' first play in overtime to set up Dan Bailey's winning 19-yard field goal, and Dallas pulled off an improbable 27-24 comeback victory over the 49ers on Sunday.
"We had a chance to make a statement and we failed to do that," safety Madieu Williams said. "We were in the midst of starting 2-0, but we couldn't close it out. Good teams find a way to win. And they're a good team."
Clearly, the 49ers aren't good enough yet.
"We have to be mentally tough, we have to keep looking each other in the eye, keep preparing," Harbaugh said.
Smith threw for 179 yards and two touchdowns, including a 29-yard strike to Delanie Walker in the third quarter.
For the 49ers, watching this one get away will be tough. They now go on the road for games at Cincinnati and Philadelphia.
San Francisco's Braylon Edwards limped off with a right knee injury after making a 21-yard catch in the first quarter. Harbaugh had no update afterward.
"I certainly don't think it's a step backwards at all," Smith said. "There's certainly no satisfaction in coming close, but I thought we did a lot of good things. We played a very good team that had their backs against the wall in a must-win situation. If a few go differently, it's a different game."