The 49ers were involved in fun matchups throughout 2022. We’ll discuss the five best. Here’s number one:
January 22, 2023, Divisional Round, vs. Cowboys 19-12
Coming in at number one on this list is the 49ers eliminating an old rival to move on to the NFC title game. In a season filled with the idea of the NFL being scripted, there isn’t a better script available for the first two rounds of the NFL playoffs than eliminating Seattle and Dallas back-to-back.
Seattle has given the 49ers more trouble lately since they are a divisional team, but Dallas has always evoked strong dislike from 49ers fans due to the long-standing history between the two franchises. Plus, 31 other franchises dislike the Dallas Cowboys.
Coming off a victory over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wild Card weekend, the national media had convinced themselves that Dallas returned to “world beater” status. Many predicted the Cowboys to be a Super Bowl participant.
Meanwhile, the 49ers hadn’t lost a game since October and somehow were picked against by nearly every NFL program or publication.
Dallas had done what San Francisco had done when Tampa Bay was the opponent, won convincingly. Yet somehow, Dallas winning on Wild Card weekend was viewed as a more impressive win (it was, given the stakes), but Tampa Bay just wasn’t good.
On paper, this was an evenly matched game. Dallas had a ferocious defensive line that presented problems to any offensive line. The 49ers had Brock Purdy starting his second career playoff game and by far the biggest test of his career.
For nearly three quarters, the game was a defensive and kicking exhibition. Robbie Gould nailed his three field goals, while Brett Maher (who missed four extra points the week before) missed his only extra point, but nailed his 25-yard attempt in the third quarter with 9:08 remaining.
Christian McCaffrey capped off the 49ers’ most impressive drive of the game with a two-yard touchdown run to open the fourth quarter to give the 49ers a 16-9 lead.
Maher added another field goal with 11:03 left in the fourth quarter, but that would be the final points from Dallas. Gould made the score 19-12 with 3:03 left, and the celebration began.
Both defenses were stout, and points came at a premium. In the end, the 49ers made more plays on defense, causing two turnovers that turned into points, and Dallas’ offense sorely needed another playmaker to help Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb.
Ultimately, the 49ers’ physicality was too much for Dallas, in the end. The last play of the game will always be remembered for how awful the outcome was for Dallas, but the 49ers’ faithful had their ammunition to slander the Cowboys.
Eliminating Seattle and Dallas in back-to-back weeks is a 49ers fans’ dream. We know how the season ended for San Francisco, but for two weeks in the playoffs, all was right in the world.