The Cowboys aspire to be the Niners
DALLAS — I believe it’s time for Cowboys fans to just let it happen, to sit back and cheer for the dreaded 49ers today and concede they will move past Dallas in terms of all-time Super Bowl glory.
It’s not like it hasn’t happened before, and the Cowboys still managed to recover from that. The two franchises have been attached at the hip from the start of their pursuit of championships.
While everyone knows what “The Catch” did to ignite Joe Montana’s career in the ’80s, and the “How ‘Bout Them Cowboys” and “Put It In Three-Inch Headlines” highlights for Dallas in the ’90s, few remember or talk much about how Dallas, after two great disappointments against Vince Lombardi’s Packers, beat San Francisco in consecutive seasons to reach their first two Super Bowls.
The Doomsday defense nickname was well established before the 1970 and ’71 seasons but it was in those 14-3 and 17-10 NFC Championship Game victories against John Brodie’s Niners that the unit sent the Cowboys on their way.
This gives Dallas a 2-0 lead in the Lombardi Trophies, gives the 49ers a 4-2 lead in 1989, and puts the Cowboys at 5-5 in their best era. After 30 Super Bowls, these teams have represented the NFC 13 times and won 10 of them.
We’re in Super Bowl 58 and both are still tied at 5-5. Yes, they still lead the NFC, but they’re one trophy behind Pittsburgh and New England. So let it be. Nothing else seems to help, so make San Francisco 6-5 and give the Cowboys some traditional motivation in 2024.
With Mike Zimmer now joining the staff as a 67-year-old defensive coordinator, certainly Mike McCarthy’s staff has the wisdom to remember this history. Maybe they find a way to impart it on today’s players who look upon Tony Romo as an old-timer.
I do recognize that, in many respects, nothing changes if Kansas City wins today, and that the 49ers are still the team to target in the NFC whether you are the Cowboys or Eagles or, especially, the new kids on the block from Detroit.
But if the Niners are the defending Super Bowl champs, it just makes the measuring stick that much more intriguing whenever the Cowboys return to Levi’s Stadium next season.
The Cowboys’ game at San Francisco certainly begins the offseason as Dallas’ toughest on paper, and I don’t see any way that changes no matter what goes down in the draft and free agency.
That’s not to say road games in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and, of course, Philadelphia won’t be challenging along with those non-division home dates with Baltimore, Detroit, Cincinnati and Houston.
But if San Francisco is the ultimate target, there’s at least a bit of safety in that thought, despite whatever residue remains from the 42-10 beat down in October.
If Kansas City wins a third Super Bowl in five years, well, that just sends the message that it’s all about Patrick Mahomes in this time and place.
Not to say the Chiefs’ defense isn’t a key component of this magnificent playoff run, but the manner in which Mahomes directed that offense without a turnover or sack through three rounds of AFC playoffs was another quarterback clinic from the former Red Raider.
And the Cowboys do not have a Patrick Mahomes at their disposal. But at least we have Brock Purdy, right? Doesn’t the guy who finished second to Lamar Jackson in the MVP voting announced Thursday at NFL Honors night at least deserve it? Of course, Duck came in a narrow second place without receiving a single one of the 50 first-place votes, but still beat Purdy by two spots.
Although Purdy has rarely been this great before the Detroit game and the 31-year-old Prescott won’t play like he did in the University of Detroit game, both quarterbacks can tighten up the defense and use their legs as weapons at times.
The Cowboys have similarly underrated talent at cornerback. Tony Pollard is no Christian McCaffrey, and the Cowboys don’t have a tight end who will bury defenders like George Kittle, but they want to run the ball efficiently and often.
I think Micah Parsons holds up well against Nick Bosa on defense, but the Cowboys don’t have anything like the strength and leadership that Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw (Arkansas Razorbacks) bring to the linebacker position.
In three years, the Cowboys have proven themselves to be San Francisco’s lightweight team. I don’t know if they can improve this offseason.
It’s unlikely that today’s players will study history, but the Cowboys would certainly benefit from history in every way possible.
Perhaps the harsh reality that the 49ers have the best Super Bowl legacy will inspire the Jones family to realize that something has been wrong with this storied franchise for a long time.