A rivalry dating back 63 years is renewed Sunday night when the Dallas Cowboys visit the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium before a sellout crowd and a national television audience.
In all games, the two teams are 19-19-1, with the 49ers 10-10 at home and 9-9-1 on the road. The postseason battles have been the most memorable, with the Cowboys leading 5-4, but the 49ers have won the last three, including each of the last two seasons. Dallas has won eight NFC championships to the 49ers’ seven. Each franchise has five Super Bowl wins.
The regular season has had its moments as well, with the 49ers holding a 15-14-1 advantage.
Here are five to remember:
Nov. 13, 1994 at Candlestick Park
49ers 21, Cowboys 14
Dallas had won in each of the previous two NFC title games. The 49ers loaded up in the offseason with Ken Norton Jr., Rickey Jackson, Gary Plummer, Richard Dent and added Deion Sanders early in the season. Steve Young loosened up the Dallas defense by running around Charles Haley on two bootlegs and the 49ers took a 21-7 lead on a 13-yard Young-to-Brent Jones touchdown pass. Emmitt Smith was held to 78 yards on 26 carries after taking an early brutal hit from Jackson, who said afterward, “Sometimes you’ve just got to let them know what kind of war it’s going to be.”
Sept. 24, 2000 at Texas Stadium
49ers 41, Cowboys 24
The Dallas midfield star took center stage courtesy of Terrell Owens. After catching a 3-yard pass from Jeff Garcia for a 17-3 lead, Owens raced to the middle of the field and the insignia with his arms spread wide in celebration. Less than a minute later, the Cowboys scored on a 1-yard run by Emmitt Smith, who did the same. The 49ers put the game away on a 1-yard Garcia-to-Owens score with 4:05 to play. Owens ran to the star again, but this time was blasted by Dallas safety George Teague. Some 49ers went after Teague, and Owens went back to the star. Teague was ejected and Owens was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Terrell Owens took it to the Dallas Star twice after absolutely schooling the Cowboys.
George Teague wasn’t having it the second time around.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) May 9, 2020
Oct. 11, 1981 at Candlestick Park
49ers 45, Cowboys 14
After being embarrassed 59-14 in Texas Stadium the previous season, the 49ers stamped themselves as a surprise contender by returning the favor. Joe Montana was 19-of-29 for 279 yards and three touchdowns after sitting out the previous year’s game when Steve DeBerg threw five interceptions. “I think everybody was thinking about last year’s game in Dallas,” Montana told reporters. “Anyway, they are America’s Team, you know?”
Nov. 12, 1995 at Texas Stadium
49ers 38, Cowboys 20
The 49ers stumbled into town at 5-4 with the Cowboys at 8-1. Young was sidelined with a sore shoulder. But the 49ers knocked Troy Aikman out in the second quarter and backup Elvis Grbac was 20-of-30 for 305 yards and two touchdowns, including an 81-yard pass to Jerry Rice to open the scoring. “Everybody has spent all week basking in the glory of the demise of the 49ers,” linebacker Gary Plummer told reporters. “The statement we made today was, there is no demise.”
Sept. 18, 2011 at Candlestick Park
Cowboys 27, 49ers 24 in OT
The 49ers held a 24-14 lead early in the fourth quarter after a field goal by David Akers. But quarterback Tony Romo directed an 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin, and Dan Bailey kicked a 48-yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime. The 49ers punted on their first possession after a replay assistant overruled what could have been a fourth-and-1 play. Romo, playing with a punctured lung, completed a 70-yard pass to Jesse Holley to set up Bailey’s game-winning 19-yard field goal.
Jan. 23, 2023 at Levi’s Stadium – 49ers 19, Cowboys 12: The 49ers stayed away from mistakes in a divisional game while Dak Prescott threw a pair of interceptions as well as a bizarre 8-yard pass to KaVontae Turpin with Ezekiel Elliott snapping the ball as time expired.
Jan. 16, 2022 at AT&T Stadium – 49ers 23, Cowboys 17: A wild-card win for the 49ers was secured when Prescott was tackled on a scramble at the San Francisco 24-yard line as time ran out. The 49ers outrushed Dallas 169-77.
Jan. 15, 1994 at Candlestick Park – 49ers 38, Cowboys 28: A 44-yard interception return by Eric Davis jump-started the 49ers to a 24-7 lead and 31-14 by halftime before a delirious home crowd in the NFC Championship Game. The day ended with Young taking a victory lap, having finally escaped the shadow of Montana.
Jan. 23, 1994 at Texas Stadium – Cowboys 38, 49ers 21: Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson made good on a game-week guarantee of victory in the NFC Championship Game on a local radio show. The 49ers trailed 28-7 at halftime and it didn’t matter that Troy Aikman left with a concussion, replaced by Bernie Kosar.
Jan. 1, 1993 at Candlestick Park – Cowboys 30, 49ers 20: The 49ers had pulled within 24-20 in the fourth quarter on Young’s 5-yard TD pass to Rice. But on the next play from scrimmage, Aikman hit Alvin Harper on a slant that went for 70 yards and helped set up the game-clinching touchdown for the Cowboys, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
Jan. 10, 1982 at Candlestick Park – 49ers 28, Cowboys 27: Montana, Dwight Clark, “The Catch.” The 49ers withstood five turnovers and went on to win their first Super Bowl.
Dec. 12, 1972 at Candlestick Park – Cowboys 30, 49ers 28: The 49ers led 28-13 in the fourth quarter and appeared Super Bowl-bound. But the Cowboys’ Roger Staubach emerged from the bench and passed for 174 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to break the 49ers’ hearts.
Jan. 2, 1972 at Texas Stadium – Cowboys 14, 49ers 3: The 49ers turned it over three times and Dallas outrushed San Francisco 172-61. The Cowboys, leading 7-3, put the game away in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard run by Duane Thomas.
Jan. 3, 1971 at Kezar Stadium – Cowboys 17, 49ers 10: In the first playoff meeting ever between the two teams, Dallas rushed for 229 yards with Thomas leading the way with 143 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown and won the NFC Championship.