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49ers hold on for dramatic 23-17 upset of Cowboys

Chris Simms and Mike Florio look ahead to the intriguing Wild Card matchup between the 49ers and Cowboys, as Kyle Shanahan pits the San Francisco offense against familiar foe Dan Quinn and the Dallas defense.

The 49ers took a 23-7 lead into the fourth quarter. They let the Cowboys back in, but then slammed the door in the home team’s face.

The Cowboys scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, but the 49ers held on for a 23-17 upset. It was way more dramatic than the 49ers would have liked and way less satisfying of an ending than the Cowboys wanted. Dallas hasn’t played in the NFC Championship Game since 1995, their fifth Super Bowl title, and won’t play in it again this postseason.

The 49ers advance to play the Packers next week, but they could be without some key defensive players. Edge rusher Nick Bosa (concussion) and linebacker Fred Warner (ankle) left and did not return Sunday.

The 49ers survived without them Sunday.

Dallas had one opportunity at its own 16 with 2:42 left. The Cowboys reached the San Francisco 46 before Kevin Givens and Charles Omenihu sacked Prescott for a 1-yard loss. Prescott then threw three consecutive incompletions, the final one deep to Cedrick Wilson while under pressure.

The Cowboys, despite having three timeouts, got the ball back with only 32 seconds left. Randy Gregory was called for defensive holding on a running play with 1:31 left, giving the 49ers a first down. The 49ers faced a fourth-and-inches with 40 seconds left and lined up for what would have been a quarterback sneak, but they never got set and were called for a false start.

The 49ers punted, and the Cowboys got the ball back at their own 20 with 32 seconds left.

With 14 seconds left, Prescott ran for 17 yards to the San Francisco 24 to try to set up a final play. But the Cowboys couldn’t get the ball spiked before time expired.

Some fans pelted the field with debris after referee Alex Kemp announced the game was over without another snap.

The Cowboys’ No. 1-ranked offense generated 307 yards with 56 coming on the final drive. Prescott went 23-of-43 for 254 yards with a touchdown and an interception. CeeDee Lamb caught only one pass for 10 yards, while Amari Cooper caught six for 64, including a 20-yard touchdown. Dalton Schultz was the leading receiver with seven catches for 89 yards.

Jimmy Garoppolo went 16-of-25 for 172 yards and an interception to Anthony Brown that got the Cowboys back in the game in the fourth quarter. Elijah Mitchell ran for 96 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.

Deebo Samuel had 10 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 38 yards.