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Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers: The great rivalry

As the two arch enemies prepare to face in each other in the Divisional Round of the 2022-23 NFL Playoffs, we’re taking a look at the fable rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.

As the two arch enemies prepare to face in each other in the Divisional Round of the 2022-23 NFL Playoffs, we’re taking a look at the fable rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.

The Dallas Cowboys-San Francisco 49ers rivalry has been ranked as the eighth best rivalry by Sports Illustrated. The NFL rivalry was also the subject of two 2015 episodes of NFL Network’s The Timeline entitled “A Tale of Two Cities” with actors Sam Elliott (Cowboys) and Jeremy Renner (49ers) as the narrators. Many fans of the teams may opt for another viewing of the show ahead of this Sunday’s clash.

Heated rivalry

The rivalry between the Cowboys and 49ers has been going since the 1970s, including seven postseason games. The Cowboys beat the 49ers in the 1970 and 1971 NFC Championship games, and also in the 1972 Divisional Playoff Game. From 1992 to 1994, the rivalry became even more heated, when the two teams faced each other in the NFC Championship Game during all three seasons. The Cowboys won the first two match-ups, but the 49ers clinched the third. In the years since, we’ve actually not seen the rivalry renewed due to both teams struggling to make the postseason in the same year. Needless to say, that’s not the case in 2023.

Cowboys-49ers epic rivalry huge part of Shanahan’s life

Kyle Shanahan was named the 20th head coach of the San Francisco 49ers on 6 February 2017. Shanahan then signed a multi-year contract extension with the 49ers on 15 June 2020.

The 42-year-old head coach had just turned 15 years old when the 49ers beat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game on 15 January 1995. Shanahan’s father, Mike, served as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator and his success that season led to him being named the Denver Broncos coach before the 1995 season. Shanahan senior was the head coach of Washington from 2010-13, where he accumulated an overall win total of 178 victories (eight postseason), including victories in Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII.

The Postseason Clash

The good news for both teams, is that in contrast to what we mentioned before about the teams failing to consistently make the postseason in the same year, this Sunday’s clash will actually be the second successive year that they meet. Indeed, last year’s Wild Card showdown which the 49ers won 23-17, was the first time they had met in the postseason since the 49ers won the NFC Championship, 38-28, following the 1994 season. Interestingly that victory brought an end to the Cowboys dominance of that era, with Dallas having won three out of the previous four Super Bowls.

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan talks about the Cowboys

Last year, Shanahan’s football life came full circle when he faced and defeated the Cowboys in the Wild Card round. It was something that he couldn’t help but acknowledge as his excitement flowed freely. “Oh, I think that’s as cool as it gets,” Shanahan said at the time. “That’s the coolest part of my childhood growing up I feel like. My senior year in high school, my dad was with the Broncos and they were able to beat the Packers in the Super Bowl, which was unbelievable. But before that, it was seventh grade, eigth grade, ninth grade - ‘92, ‘93, ‘94 - every single year I thought we were the best team in the league.” Funnily, Shanahan was also asked if his players understood the gravity of the rivalry. “Not at all,” he answered with a laugh. “I wish I could say yes, but I mean, some of these players were born in the 2000s. You would like to say so.”

This of course brings us to the present, which is to say things have changed. Having watched the Cowboys take out the Bucs on Monday night, Shanahan was quite frank about what lies ahead. “They’re a good team. Have been all year. They looked their best Monday night, which you expected them to. The atmosphere and everything. They’ve been good for a while. Just watching this week, it reminds me of their team from last year, only improved.” The Niners coach then went on to speak specifically about Dallas’ defense saying, “I think starting with their defensive line, Dan Quinn jumps off the tape to me. The way he gets those guys to move. They’ve got some good rushers. Everyone knows about [DeMarcus] Lawrence and [Micah]Parsons, but there’s not one bad one there. The way that they stunt can create 1-on-1s. There’s a reason they’re No. 1 at getting to the quarterback in sacks and pressures and it does jump off the catch.” Ultimately, whether it’s tactics, film, injury reports, or even the quality of the field, we’re betting that all bets will be off when these two rivals meet, so, don’t miss it.