5 reasons 49ers should be fearful of Cowboys in Wild Card round

Running back Tony Pollard #20 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Running back Tony Pollard #20 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Anthony Brown, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (30) returns an interception against the San Francisco 49ers Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

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

The 49ers potentially match up well against the Cowboys, but this Wild Card game of the NFL playoffs poses problems for the Niners, too.

For the first time since 1995, the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys will face off against each other in the NFL playoffs.

It’s about time to re-spark this rivalry, which has been largely dormant over the last 20-plus years, and it’s certainly a matchup the Niners can win when the Wild Card round plays itself out.

San Francisco’s commanding ground game could potentially be the difference-maker, as Dallas is allowing an average of 4.5 rush yards per carry, and head coach Kyle Shanahan will want to ensure ball control is at the peak of his game plan for Sunday’s matchup.

Yet there are plenty of reasons why the 49ers need to be concerned about this matchup, too.

Let’s break down those specific elements that make the Cowboys a dangerous opponent for the Niners during this Wild Card game.

No. 5: Cowboys threaten to force a lot of 49ers turnovers

One of San Francisco’s glowing trends from the regular season, particularly with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, was how it won games when it didn’t turn the ball over, yet it would lose games when it did.

Garoppolo, in particular, was both a part of the problem and the solution. In games where he tossed an interception, the 49ers went 2-6. When he didn’t, the Niners were a perfect 7-0.

No other team forced more defensive takeaways during the regular season than the Cowboys, who forced a league-high 34 turnovers over 17 games and finished tied for the best turnover differential (plus-14) along with the Indianapolis Colts.

Second-year cornerback Trevon Diggs was a big reason why with his league-best 11 interceptions on the year, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

San Francisco can’t afford to play into this notable Dallas strength.