4 advantages 49ers have over Cowboys in Wild Card round

Running back Carlos Hyde #28 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Running back Carlos Hyde #28 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Jeff Wilson, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson (30) with tight end Jordan Reed (81) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

12-5. 123. Cowboys -3. 4:30 p.m. ET. 42. CBS. Sunday, Jan. 16. 10-7

The 49ers may be slight underdogs on the road against the Cowboys in the Wild Card round, but the Niners do hold these four crucial advantages.

According to plenty out there in the NFL world, the San Francisco 49ers are precisely the worst road opponent the Dallas Cowboys could have had in the Wild Card round.

Yet here we are.

While it’s possible to cite a number of different takes on what’ll be the first time these two teams square off in the postseason since the Niners’ victory in the 1995 NFC Championship game, there are perhaps none better than former Cowboys wide receiver and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, who told San Francisco’s 95.7 The Game, “I did not want this matchup for Dallas.”


The Cowboys, the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoff picture, just pummeled the Philadelphia Eagles 51-26 en route to boasting the league’s top-scoring offense this season. Yet the offense, particularly quarterback Dak Prescott, has nevertheless been inconsistent.

And San Francisco’s run-first, run-heavy offense might be the perfect kind of formula to keep Prescott and Co. off the field.

Perhaps this is just one of four clear-cut advantages the 49ers will have as we return to this historic NFC rivalry.

No. 4: 49ers can take advantage of Cowboys weak run defense

A simple Football 101 theory when matching up against a dangerous offense is to not let it on the field. To do that, the opposing team needs to maintain possession and chew up the clock.

That’s done by the running game.

The Niners finished the regular season with the NFL’s seventh-ranked rushing offense, totaling 2,166 yards. And while San Francisco only averaged 4.3 yards per carry, good for 16th, head coach Kyle Shanahan rarely strayed from the run-first approach.

That might be the perfect way to offset Dallas’ own offense, as the Cowboys defense doesn’t exactly enter the fray with a quality run-stopping line.

Over the course of the regular season, Dallas allowed an average of 4.5 yards per carry, 23rd in the league. It also only managed five games during the season where opponents netted fewer than 100 yards on the ground.

And that only happened once over the Cowboys’ final 12 games.

Needless to say, the 49ers shouldn’t have too many difficulties moving the ball on the ground on Sunday.