Cowboys preseason opener brings back winning memories

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs with the ball during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium.Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers-Cowboys matchup stirs nostalgia for 90s NFC Championship battles.

For Cowboys fans over the age of 30, any time their team plays at San Francisco brings on a flood of nostalgia.

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 25 years since Dallas went into Candlestick Park and claimed a 30-20 victory, sending the Cowboys to the Super Bowl and prompting Jimmy Johnson to proclaim those unforgettable words “How bout them Cowboys!”

That game featured Emmitt Smith rushing for 114 yards, Troy Aikman passing for 322 and a pair of touchdowns, and Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper combining for 203 receiving yards. In doing so, they bested the 49ers triumvirate of Steve Young, Ricky Watters and Jerry Rice.

Dallas and San Francisco met in three straight NFC Championship games from 1993-1995, with each one following through with a Super Bowl win.

Alas, those days are long gone and both franchises have a long way to go to reach such heights again. The Cowboys missed the playoffs at 9-7 a year ago, but that record looks all right compared to San Francisco’s 6-10 season. Still, the 49ers have at least made it back to the NFC Championship Game (and a Super Bowl) since the pinnacle of the rivalry.