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Revisiting the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers Rivalry Ahead of Wild Card Matchup

Revisiting the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers rivalry ahead of their Wild Card matchup. This rivalry gets renewed this weekend.

The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers will face off in a Wild Card matchup this Sunday. The Cowboys versus the 49ers was one of the NFL’s best rivalries prior to the 2000’s. The rivalry has seen several postseason matchups, many of which ended in a Superbowl championship for the victor. This Wild Card game on Sunday might be another classic that could re-intensify this once heated rivalry.

Dallas Cowboys Versus San Francisco 49ers Is a Rivalry Renewed


This heated rivalry began in the 1970’s when Dallas defeated the 49ers in 1970 and 1971 in back-to-back NFC Championship games. Dallas added to this by tally winning the 1972 divisional playoff game to advance to another NFC Championship. In 1970, led by Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach, and Tom Landry the Cowboys advanced to the NFC Championship. Unfortunately, Dallas lost to Baltimore in the Superbowl.

In 1971 Dallas defeated the 49ers in the NFC championship and advanced to another Superbowl. This time, Dallas defeated the Miami Dolphins 14-3. Dallas followed up that by beating the 49ers in the divisional round the next season.

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The 1980’s featured one of the most iconic games in NFL history. The Dallas Cowboys versus the San Francisco 49ers was heating up as an elite rivalry. In 1981 Dallas played San Francisco at Candlestick Park. The Cowboys opened the game with a punt which then led to an eight-yard touchdown pass from Joe Montana. After Dallas converted a field goal, they found the end zone with a touchdown pass to Tony Hill. Dallas and San Francisco continued to trade the lead with the Cowboys up 17-14 at the half.

The second half was more of the same with lead changes and intense moments right up until the final drive for the 49ers. Montana started on his own 11-yard line with 4:54 left in the game and all three timeouts. Montana faced a third-down early on in the drive and converted it to extend the drive and the game. The 49ers marched down the field inside of two minutes.

The Catch

On third down with four yards to go the 49ers lined up with Montana under center and Dwight Clark on the outside. Freddie Soloman slipped and missed the rub on his designed pick play which left him easily covered. Clark broke to the outside while the Dallas pass rush flushed Montana from the pocket. A back-peddling Montana heaved a pass off his back foot over Ed “Too Tall” Jones to find Dwight Clark in the back of the endzone. This play was deemed “The Catch.”


The 1990’s reinvented the rivalry as Dallas won three Superbowls, and defeated Steve Young and the 49ers in 1992, 1993, and 1995. The first Superbowl in 1992 marked the beginning of a football dynasty as Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith brought three titles to Dallas. The 49ers got some revenge on the Cowboys with an NFC Championship and a championship victory themselves in 1994. The 1990’s was one of the greatest eras of football and this rivalry.


This weekend Dallas will play host to San Francisco Sunday and renew this great rivalry. Cowboys versus 49ers looks to be one of the better games in this Wild Card round. Dak Prescott will lead the top-scoring offense in the NFL while Jimmy Garoppolo will be under center for the explosive 49ers. Dallas has performed much better defensively this season while the 49ers defense has been a letdown after getting healthy over the off-season. San Francisco is fully healthy this season on both sides of the ball and is one of the hottest teams in football coming into the first round of playoffs.

The 49ers have become one of the most explosive teams in football with the emergence of Deebo Samuel, Bandon Aiyuk, and Elijah Mitchell. George Kittle is healthy and one of the best tight ends in the NFL. However, Dallas boasts arguably the best offense in football with Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and Ezekiel Elliott. And they have played better defense this season, which might give them the edge in this renewed rivalry.

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