Kyle Shanahan

Shanahan recalls childhood memories of 49ers-Cowboys rivalry

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  • Programming note: Watch "49ers Game Plan" at 9 p.m. PT on Friday on NBC Sports Bay Area, and again on NBC Bay Area at 8 p.m. PT on Saturday.

The 49ers and Cowboys met in the NFC Championship Game for three consecutive seasons from 1992-1994, creating lifelong memories for the spectators who watched the heavyweight bouts between these historic franchises.

Among those with a front-row seat for these epic battles was 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, whose father, Mike, was the team's offensive coordinator during those years.

On this week's episode of "49ers Game Plan," Greg Papa asked Shanahan what he remembers about the historic rivalry.

"Those three years, I mean, that was everything," Shanahan said. "We came out here in '92, and I was in sixth grade, thought Joe Montana was the guy, he had an injured back, and then Steve Young came in and got the NFL MVP, they [49ers] went 14-2. I had spent my whole life in Denver, where were just used to, at that time, losing Super Bowls and getting killed by the Niners and stuff.

"Finally, my dad came out here, so I was so excited as a little kid. I'm like, 'alright, we're in the NFC, the NFC usually wins the Super Bowl.', we're 14-2, and we got the NFL MVP. I remember going to that NFC Championship Game, I got to sit on the sidelines. Dallas I think, was a wild-card team that year, but how good they were, they were unbelievable. Then the next year they [49ers] had to go to Dallas, and then they [Cowboys] beat the crap out of them [49ers] that year."

When asked if he attended the 49ers' 38-21 loss in the 1993 NFC Championship game in Dallas, Shanahan shared that road travel with the team was not a part of his itinerary during his middle school years.

"No, they didn't let me go on the road that young," Shanahan said. "They wouldn't let me miss school. I don't know why."

Following back-to-back seasons that saw the 49ers' Super Bowl aspirations fall short at the hands of their bitter rivals, San Francisco added some serious star power ahead of the 1994 season. Shanahan talked about these additions and how it proved to be the difference in the 49ers finally breaking through en route to their fifth Super Bowl victory.

"Then the third year, the intensity of it," Shanahan explained. "The free agents the 49ers brought in to be able to hang with Dallas. Bringing in Deion [Sanders], Ken Norton [Jr.], Ricky Jackson, Richard Dent, they brought a number of dudes in, but Deion was the main acquisition that got them over the hump.

"I think that happened like Week 4, came right from the baseball season, and that year was amazing. The way the Niners got off to that start was what they needed to do to beat that team because that's why Dallas was back [in the Super Bowl] the next year because Dallas was loaded for that decade. It was amazing. For those three years, it felt like they were the only two teams in the league. That was my history of living here, and that's almost always what I would think back to the Niners growing up."

With the all-time series between these teams knotted at 19 victories apiece, with one tie, Shanahan and his 49ers will look to win their third consecutive game vs. Dallas in this storied rivalry.

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