San Francisco 49ers, On the Road, Humiliate Dallas Cowboys to Advance to NFC Divisional Round

San Francisco 49ers middle linebacker Fred Warner, left, celebrates with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) after the 49ers defeated the Dallas Cowboys in an NFL wild-card playoff football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

On a sleepless Thursday night before Sunday’s showdown with the Dallas CowboysSan Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan did the only thing that allows him to relax: He watched more football.

Shanahan didn’t turn on any ordinary game when he awoke this time. Instead, he flipped on coach’s footage of the 1995 NFC Championship Game, which just so happened to be the last time these two historic rivals met in the postseason.

Motivated by what he saw, Shanahan showed the clips to his team on Friday, hoping to ignite some inspiration and help his young team see just how much it meant to play the Cowboys on such a grand stage.

Apparently, it worked. In a finish befitting the rivalry, the 49ers and Cowboys battled to the bitter end of their nostalgic NFC wild-card meeting, but the 49ers — buoyed by a dominant defense, strong rushing attack and myriad Cowboys mistakes — emerged with a 23-17 victory that ensured Shanahan sweet dreams for at least one night.

“I said, ‘These guys become everyone’s heroes because of what you do in the playoffs, not what you do in the season,'” Shanahan said after his team’s harrowing win. “I don’t think our guys totally know the rivalry. They’ve got an idea now. But they knew the moment and they were ready for it.”

In the first playoff meeting between the two franchises since that 1995 matchup, and the first in NFL history between two franchises with at least five Super Bowl titles, the Niners seemed to be in control the whole way.

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SOURCE: ESPN, Nick Wagoner