49ers-Cowboys playoff rivalry takes centerstage yet again


One of the NFL's most iconic rivalries might just be re-ignited Sunday in Dallas. 

After clinching a spot in the playoffs in a thrilling overtime win against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18, the 49ers will face off against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday in the wild card round at AT&T Stadium. 

Sunday's matchup will be the first playoff game between the two teams since the historic rivalry took centerstage 28 years ago, spawning a three-year clash between two NFC dynasties. 

In seven prior playoff meetings between the two teams, the 49ers are just 2-5 against their former rivals. Those two victories, though, were followed by Super Bowl wins in each of the 1981 and 1994 seasons. 

In fact, the winner of the previous four matchups ('81, '92, '93, '94) went on to win the Super Bowl that year. Of the seven total matchups, the winner eventually went on to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl six times. 

Before the Seattle Seahawks were the bane of San Francisco's existence throughout the 2010s, the Cowboys were the rivals that made 49ers fans' blood boil. 

Not only was the rivalry heated, but the star power was off the charts. Players such as Joe Montana, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, Charles Haley and Ken Norton Jr. all competed in the rivalry at some point. 


Fast-forward to today, and the 49ers will trot out quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and offensive weapons such as Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Elijah Mitchell and Brandon Aiyuk to go along with a stout defense featuring one of the league's best front-sevens. 

The Cowboys are laden with stars of their own. QB Dak Prescott will look to slice-and-dice a susceptible 49ers secondary with wide receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb while deploying a rushing attack led by Ezekiel Elliott. On the other side of the ball, the Dallas defense is led by rookie phenom Micah Parsons off the edge and the NFL leader in interceptions, Trevon Diggs at cornerback. 

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Ever since the two teams faced off against one another in three straight NFC Championships in the 90s, the rivalry had sort of been put on the back burner. 

That is, until now. 

Neither of the two teams have strong feelings towards one other, but Sunday's game might just be the spark that re-ignites a rivalry decades in the making. 

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