By Charlie Erdman
This upcoming Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers will square off with the Dallas Cowboys in a Wild Card playoff elimination game. A rivalry that goes back decades to the battles of Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, and Steve Young versus Troy Aikman, Emmett Smith, Micheal Irvin, and more. In this present age matchup, stars Deebo Samuel and CeeDee Lamb look to lead their teams to the Super Bowl and it all starts here. After a phenomenal regular season in which the Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East with a record of 12-5, they are poised to make their first playoff run since the 2018-2019 season. Led by quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, and star wide receiver tandem CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, the Cowboys begin their playoff journey as solid 3 point home favorites against the San Francisco 49ers. The Cowboys have had good ownership of the 49ers in recent years, having beaten them in each of the last three matchups. One significant improvement that will help in continuing this trend against the 49ers is the Cowboy’s new and improved defense. Led by superstar rookie Micah Parsons and NFL interceptions leader Trevon Diggs, the Cowboys have made significant strides on the defensive side of the ball. The Cowboys rank top 10 in a variety of defensive metrics and lead the entire NFL in total interceptions and turnovers. This is a significant step in the right direction after years of the Cowboy’s defense being their most vulnerable asset. Led by defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the Cowboys look to stifle the 49er’s attack and move ever closer to a sixth Super Bowl Ring. After a tumultuous season, the 49ers managed to grab a playoff spot on the final day of the season. During an absolute classic of a game against the Los Angeles Rams, the 49ers were able to tie the game at 24 apiece with less than thirty seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. After winning the coin toss and streaking down the field to nail a Robbie Gould field goal, the 49ers went on to win 27-24 after a walk-off interception by rookie Ambry Thomas. Finishing their regular season at 10-7, the 49ers have been up and down all year. In large part to the inconsistent play of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and a multitude of key injuries. Although it hasn’t been smooth sailing in San Francisco, the 49ers have unlocked superstar wide receiver, Deebo Samuel, into one of the most versatile weapons in the NFL. After a plethora of running back injuries, head coach Kyle Shanahan decided to use Samuel as a part-time running back/receiver. This change worked wonders. Samuel broke the NFL rushing touchdown record for wide receivers in a single season with eight, breaking Lenny Moore’s record of seven dating back to 1961. In addition to Deebo Samuel’s dominance throughout the year, sixth-round rookie running back Elijah Mitchell has been another beacon of hope. Sixth-round picks usually don’t make the regular-season roster and furthermore, they rarely play in an NFL game. But for head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, Mitchell is anything but a sixth-round pick. Finishing the year with just under 1,000 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns, Mitchell has been an improbable force since being handed the lead role at running back. Look for the 49ers to lean on their impressive run game on the road in Dallas in hopes of moving on and winning another Super Bowl. The 49ers and Cowboys square off this Sunday, January 16th at 1:30 pm.
Credits: The National Football League