1. Dallas Cowboys LB, Leighton Vander Esch
If Sunday ends up being his final game with the Cowboys, Leighton Vander Esch can at least go out with his head held high. The fourth-year pro had 13 tackles as he continued to fight through the struggles against San Francisco — and even made one of the better plays of the day for the defense late in the game.
With roughly 3:40 left in the game, and Dallas trailing by six, Jimmy Garoppolo was facing a third-and-five and he hit Deebo Samuel on a short pass in the middle of the field. Vander Esch then made a huge open-field tackle on the explosive wideout, getting the ball back for the Cowboys.
Dallas then stunk it up with a terrible drive that ended with Dak Prescott’s desperation pass on fourth-and-11 to Cedrick Wilson hitting the turf. Everyone can be as mad as they want at the final drive but this was their chance to steal the win and they soiled themselves in the big moment.
Still, LVE was a huge reason they even had that chance — but this could be the final big play he made for Dallas. Entering this season, the front office declined the fifth year on Vander Esch’s rookie contract making him a free agent in the offseason.
Once a huge star for this defense, Vander Esch has been trending in the wrong direction since his rookie season, and chances remain high that he could be looking for a new home in 2022.