The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers have engaged in a fierce rivalry over the last six decades, a rivalry that was once ranked as one of the top 10 in NFL history despite the fact that the two franchises have only played one another 37 times, a number that includes both the regular season and postseason. Perhaps it’s because the Cowboys and 49ers have matched up six times in the NFC Championship (including three straight in the 1990s) with the winner of those games going on to win the Super Bowl on five of those six occasions.
While the matchups certainly haven’t been as big over the past two decades or so as the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers haven’t made the playoffs in the same season since 1998, there’s still a big-game feel when these two teams square off.
So which team has the most wins in this storied rivalry?
The San Francisco 49ers have a 15-14-1 edge in the regular season
The San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys have matched up 30 times in the regular season with the Niners holding a 15-14-1 edge. The teams first matched up in the Cowboys’ inaugural season of 1960, a season in which Dallas went winless, with the 49ers taking a 26-14 victory on the road. San Francisco took three of the first four matchups between the two teams and the fifth game resulted in the lone tie in the rivalry, a 24-24 draw in Dallas in 1969.
The Cowboys have won the last three meetings between the two teams, the most recent coming in December 2020 when Dallas bested San Francisco in Big D, 41-33. Here’s a quick look at the regular-season results.
- November 20, 1960: SF-26, DAL-14
- November 10, 1963: SF-31, DAL-24
- November 7, 1965: DAL-39, SF-31
- December 16, 1967: SF-24, DAL-16
- November 27, 1969: SF-24, DAL-24
- November 23, 1972: SF-31, DAL-10
- November 10, 1974: DAL-20, SF-14
- December 12, 1977: DAL-42, SF-35
- September 9, 1979: DAL-21, SF-13
- October 12, 1980: DAL-59, SF-14
- October 11, 1981: SF-45, DAL-14
- December 19, 1983: SF-42, DAL-17
- December 22, 1985: SF-31, DAL-16
- October 13, 1989: SF-31, DAL-14
- November 11, 1990: SF-24, DAL-6
- October 17, 1993: DAL-26, SF-17
- November 13, 1994: SF-21, DAL-14
- November 12, 1995: SF-38, DAL-20
- November 10, 1996: DAL-20, SF-17 (OT)
- November 2, 1997: SF-17, DAL-10
- September 24, 2000: SF-41, DAL-24
- December 30, 2001: DAL-27, SF-21
- December 8, 2002: SF-31, DAL-27
- September 25, 2005: DAL-34, SF-31
- November 23, 2008: DAL-35, SF-22
- September 18, 2011: DAL-27, SF-24 (OT)
- September 7, 2014: SF-28, DAL-17
- October 2, 2016: DAL-24, SF-17
- October 22, 2017: DAL-40, SF-10
- December 20, 2020: DAL-41, SF-33
The Dallas Cowboys have a 5-2 advantage in the postseason
The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers first met in the postseason following the 1970 season in the NFC Championship Game in January 1971 with the Cowboys emerging victorious, 17-10. Dallas would go on to lose Super Bowl 5 to the Baltimore Colts, marking the only time that the winner of the NFC title game between the Cowboys and 49ers would lose the Super Bowl. Dallas and San Francisco met again in the NFC Championship one year later with the Cowboys winning that matchup as well, 14-3.
Dallas would then defeat the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl, 24-3. The only postseason matchup between the Cowboys and 49ers that didn’t decide the NFC representative in the Super Bowl came following the 1972 season with Dallas beating San Francisco in the divisional round, 30-28.
The 49ers picked up their first postseason win over the Cowboys following the 1981 season, famously beating their rivals in the NFC Championship Game that featured “The Catch” from the late, great Dwight Clark. The Niners won the game, 28-27, and went on to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 16, 26-21.
As mentioned, the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers met in three consecutive NFC title games in the mid-1990s with Dallas taking the first two and San Francisco winning the third.
- January 3, 1971: DAL-17, SF-10
- January 2, 1972: DAL-14, SF-3
- December 23, 1972: DAL-30, SF-28
- January 10, 1982: SF-28, DAL-27
- January 17, 1993: DAL-30, SF-20
- January 16, 1994: DAL-38, SF-21
- January 15, 1995: SF-38, DAL-28
Overall, the Dallas Cowboys hold the all-time advantage over the San Francisco 49ers at 18-17-1.
The San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys have both won five Super Bowl titles
As close as the rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers has been over the years, it’s almost beautiful that the two teams have the same number of Super Bowl wins.
Both franchises have five Super Bowl wins to their credit, tied for the second-most in history behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, who each have six.
Scores and stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference