Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott left the 49ers in his dust the entire game on Sunday. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott left the 49ers in his dust the entire game on Sunday. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Who are these imposters playing in the 49ers’ jerseys?

After the Niners In Name Only lost five games by a combined 13 points, the home-spun narrative assured us that they were about to turn the corner.

Yep, the NINO turned the corner on Sunday, all right, only to run face first into Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys’ 228-pound diesel truck. The big lug run over, through and around their defense for 219 total yards and three touchdowns in a 40-10 smackdown, their worst loss at Levi’s Stadium ev-er.

The NINO have lost 24 of their last 27 regular-season games. That’s not bad luck, girls and boys. That’s bad football. That’s dumb penalties. That’s careless turnovers. That’s blown assignments. That’s lame fundamentals. That’s lousy attitudes. Mostly, it’s a lack talent.

Sadder yet, we witnessed all of that on the day that the organization paid tribute to Dwight Clark, a real 49er who helped orchestrate the most significant play in franchise history.

So let’s forget oh-but-they’re-so-close nonsense, shall we? This team has a few keepers, most of them on defense, but it isn’t close to being average let alone playoff caliber.

In fact, according to Balls’ Department of Statistics & Analysis, the NINO have actually regressed since the hopelessly overmatched Jim Tomsula was booted out of town two years ago.

In 2015, the one and only season with Tomsula in charge, his team started 2-5 with a minus-77 points differential and the third-toughest schedule in the league.

In 2016, the one and only season with the hopelessly misplaced Chip Kelly at the controls, his team started 1-6 with a minus-75 points differential and the most difficult schedule in the league.

This season, Kyle Shahanan’s bunch are 0-7 with a minus-63-points differential and the 20th toughest schedule in the league.

So there you have the NINO’s greatest achievement thus far. Somehow, they’ve actually made Jim Tomsula look good as a head coach.

REST OF THE STORY: If general manager John Lynch had his quarterback of the future in place, the massive rebuild would be much easier for the Faithless to stomach.

Rookie C.J. Beathard was OK on Sunday. Maybe the kid will develop into a dependable No. 2 eventually, but the eye test says anything more than that would be an upset.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott continued to impress in his second season. He’s the guy that Clueless Trent Baalke bypassed in favor of cornerback Rashard Robinson in round four of the 2016 draft.

And don’t forget Houston Texans rookie Deshaun Watson, already a star in the league. Instead, Lynch selected d-lineman Solomon Thomas at the third pick last spring, nine spots ahead of him. On Sunday, Thomas had one tackle.

Lord help John Lynch if The Guy Who Passed Up Deshaun Watson In The Draft becomes his legacy.

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to pladd@aol.com, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.

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