The San Francisco 49ers are back to the NFC Championship for the second year in a row, but they have some work to do if they want to go one further to the Super Bowl.
The San Francisco 49ers stretched their winning streak to 12 wins in a row and took out an old rival in one fell swoop, eliminating the Dallas Cowboys 19-12 at Levi’s Stadium and booking their spot in Philadelphia to take on the Eagles for the NFC Championship game.
In a game that was dominated by defense, the Niners were just a little bit cleaner and a little bit better with the ball as they got their noses in front with a fourth-quarter touchdown to running back Christian McCaffrey, which ended up being a lead they did not relinquish.
The defense did the rest and held the Cowboys out, and for the second season in a row, San Francisco had the satisfaction of a hated enemy leaving the playoffs. The Cowboys were somewhat of a fanciful upset pick by NFL pundits, but the 49ers held firm.
A perfect game this is not, however, with the offense, defense and special teams making some basic errors that meant this was never a game that seemed comfortable from the first snap. The Niners certainly benefited from mistakes the Cowboys made, too, but those are mistakes the Eagles are unlikely to also make.
While the Cowboys were no doubt a stern test, and fans would have been unwise to expect a demolition job, facing the Eagles in Philadelphia presents a test that is doubly tough for San Francisco. The 49ers will need to be absolutely perfect to get to the Super Bowl, and they were not absolutely perfect against Dallas.
With that in mind, let’s look at where the 49ers need to tighten up to ensure that the season doesn’t end next week in Philadelphia.