The last two meetings between the 49ers and Dallas Cowboys have gone very well for San Francisco, with coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. eliminating their longtime rival from the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
The storied franchises will meet again on "Sunday Night Football" at Levi's Stadium in Week 5, and those past matchups have Dallas eager for a win -- especially Cowboys defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who recently said his team is treating it like a playoff game.
"It's always a battle going when we're going against the Niners, and obviously the last two years, they've had our number," Hankins said this week, per ESPN's Todd Archer (h/t 49ers Webzone). "So this game means a lot more to us than just a regular-season game. Two of the best teams in our [conference], so we've got to turn the page and beat the 49ers, man.
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"It sucks to continue to lose to these guys, back-to-back years, especially when we have the talent that we have. So this week, we definitely going to be more ready and attack these guys. I definitely think this is the year we get them. We just got to be clicking on offense, defense, special teams, and win this game as a team."
San Francisco has regular-season bragging rights over Dallas, leading the all-time series 15-14-1, per the NFL. But despite their past two victories, the 49ers trail the Cowboys in the postseason all-time, 5-4.
The 49ers eliminated the Cowboys last season with a 19-12 victory in the NFC Divisional Playoff, and in 2021, Dallas didn't make it past the wild-card round after falling to San Francisco by a score of 23-17. Last season's loss in particular motivates the Cowboys "every day," quarterback Dak Prescott angrily told reporters Sunday.
But Hankins, who was only on the Cowboys for last season's loss, isn't the only person in this matchup placing more weight than usual on Sunday's game. San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner stated on his podcast this week that the 49ers-Cowboys clash would be a "game for the ages," while Dallas coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged it's not "just another game."
San Francisco 49ers
Given the rivalry between the 49ers and Cowboys, whether historic or recent, it's no surprise Dallas is coming into the meeting looking for vengeance. And while asserting Dallas "definitely" will beat an undefeated San Francisco team certainly is a choice, the Cowboys' confidence only can add more fuel to the fire in the Bay.