No. 5: Roger Staubach
Perhaps this goes back further than some of you can remember. Or, as in my case, predates your birth. But Staubach was Brett Favre before Brett Favre. But I’ll get into that later.
Roger Staubach quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys through the 1970s, defeating our beloved 49ers, the NFC West Division champs, in the playoffs in 1970 , 1971 and 1972. It also was a precursor to a rivalry that re-ignited when a certain QB from Notre Dame threw an impossible last-minute touchdown in the back of the end zone in the 1981 NFC Championship against these same Cowboys.
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They battled in the playoffs throughout the 80s and 90s, creating one of the great rivalries in NFL history.
But before that, Staubach always seemed to beat the Niners.
They faced the Staubach-led Cowboys in the 1970 and 1971 NFC Championship games, losing 17-10 and 14-3, respectively. But it was in the 1972 NFC Divisional Playoff game that introduced the 49ers and the NFL to “Captain Comeback.”
Staubach had not played since an injury in Week 5 and watched backup quarterback Craig Morton struggle to move the team for the first three quarters at Candlestick Park.
Trailing 28-13 in the fourth quarter, Cowboys coach Tom Landry inserted Staubach into the game. After cutting the deficit to 28-23 with just over a minute to play, the Cowboys recovered an onside kick.
A touchdown pass to Ron Sellers with 52 seconds left capped a 15-point comeback that devastated the 49ers and the Candlestick crowd.
It would be 10 years until the 49ers and their fans would wipe that bad taste out of their mouth when Montana completed “The Catch” to Dwight Clark.