Kyle Shanahan says today’s players don’t know about the 49ers-Cowboys rivalry

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The Cowboys and 49ers will meet for the eighth time in postseason history on Sunday, but most of the players in the game probably don’t know that.

San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan, whose father was on the 49ers’ coaching staff when they played the Cowboys in three consecutive NFC Championship Games in the 1990s, says his current players don’t know about those games. And they also don’t know about “The Catch,” when Dwight Clark’s touchdown sent the 49ers to the Super Bowl after the 1981 season. And they certainly don’t know that the Cowboys beat the 49ers in each of the first two NFC Championship Games, in 1970 and 1971.

Not at all,” Shanahan said when asked if today’s players know that history, via NBCSportsBayArea.com. “I wish I could say yes, but I mean, some of these players were born in the 2000s.”

Shanahan said the three great NFC Championship Games in the 1990s were a major part of his formative years.

“That was a part of my childhood that was just such cool football, because everyone knew those three NFC Championships, those three years, those were the Super Bowl,” Shanahan said.

The 42-year-old Shanahan said the generational disconnect with today’s players goes beyond football.

“Every day in the quarterback room I ask them questions from Wedding Crashers and stuff, and they don’t know what that is sometimes. You’d be very surprised at the difference in some of this stuff.”

Perhaps Sunday’s game can provide another great moment in NFL playoff history, that a future generation of players can know nothing about.

53 responses to “Kyle Shanahan says today’s players don’t know about the 49ers-Cowboys rivalry

  1. I was a 10 year old kid during the rivalry in the early 90’s. I HATED those Cowboys teams with a passion! Can’t wait for the rivalry to be renewed…. Niners by 10.

  2. This matchup will have FOX showing highlights from NFCCG’s in the 70s, 80s & 90s.
    Us old timers will enjoy it.

  3. Bet they know most can’t stand, don’t like, root, or care about Jerry’s world, Americas team, or the Cowboys.

  4. That’s a shame, those 92-94 matchups was literally like watching the Pro Bowl , but if everyone was trying to win .

  5. Kyle Shanahan: “Every day in the quarterback room I ask them questions from Wedding Crashers and stuff.”

    Mike McCarthy: “It may not be has hard to win this game as I thought it was going to be.”

  6. Todays youth doesn’t really watch football. They play Madden. They may play for their local high school. They don’t know the history of the NFL. They don’t care either.

  7. Well don’t worry because that’s all they will talk about during the game, you’ll have to mute the commentary if you want to focus on what’s actually happening currently

  8. Cowboys haven’t done squat since the implementation of the salary cap. Can’t buy Championships anymore. Gotta earn them.

  9. Those games were epic and painful for both sides. Everything from the helmets to the characters, platers, coaches and staffs were the thing of legend. Madden and Summerall called those games too making them even more memorable. Some observations from those games:

    -Too Tall Jones was a major trash talker. Joe Montana gave it right back
    -The Catch game sent Dallas into a 10 year tailspin
    -Alvin Harper OWNED Niners corner Eric Davis in the 92 and 93 games. Davis got revenge in the ’94 matchup
    -Ken Norton jumped ship from Dallas to play linebacker for SF. That was a big deal as he was a dominant force
    -The 92 game changed on a holding call early in the game. Rice caught a bomb from Young and scored a TD, only for it to be called back. Dallas seized momentum and never looked back

  10. Uh…Kyle…the 49ers built a team museum in Levi’s Stadium. And it’s not a modern art football museum so maybe you should take the team there sometime to teach them some history.

  11. Today’s players couldn’t care less about what happened historically (with very few exceptions). They know how to get paid, though! Forget all else: it’s about getting paid.

  12. “Those games were epic and painful for both sides. ”

    Don’t forget about the contributions from CHarles Haley and Dion Sanders. THose two were two of the biggest factors that brought championships to BOTH teams.

  13. To be fair… today’s players don’t know about the Cowboys-anybody rivalry, because the Cowboys have been irrelevant for almost 30 yrs.

  14. Hasn’t been a decent rivalry in nearly 30 years.
    Current teams are a pale imitation of past 49er/Cowboy teams.

  15. I don’t see the players “connecting” to their City [as may have happened in the past.] Players talk about fellow players, not a connection to the city. There is so much movement in the league. Agents. Social agenda coordinators. Gated communities. It’s just a different NFL than the past.

  16. I grew up in the 90s, and I knew all about the great games and rivalries of the 60, 70s and 80s. So, what’s going on with these kids parents? Raised by Ipads probably.

  17. Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders, Charles Haley. If you didn’t watch those games at that time when Madden and Summeraul were calling them you really missed out

  18. Most players are in their 20’s. There is a lifetime’s worth of football history knowledge that has to be learned over several decades. If the current players weren’t familiar with Brady vs. Manning, then I would be surprised.

  19. Maybe it’s the fact that Garoppolo vs Prescott doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Young vs. Aikman or Montana vs. White.

  20. This is only surprising to people who still think it’s 1995. Two relevant teams are required to form a rivalry, and Dallas hasn’t been relevant in a long, long time.

  21. Guys are way too chummy w/ the other teams’ players, too. I couldn’t imagine Ronnie Lott having a post game beer w/ Irvin. Now, they get together to discuss real estate holdings and the stock market.

  22. I will never forget getting on the streetcar going under Mount Sutro in The City during the ’72 playoffs with the Niners up 28-13. By the time I got across the city to downtown and could get the radio signal again the Crybabys had won the dadgum game.
    The Catch where the Niners finally got over the hump was one of the best days in my football life. Any of the true Faithful know how big a deal it is to face Dallas in the playoffs.

  23. Back in the 90’s the rivalry was like The Soviet Union Vs US Cold war. The two organizations would try to match each other’s off season moves in a arms race. First Charles Haley went over there, then we took Ken The Hitman Norton, then they took Prime away from us. The owners hated each other, the fans and players didnt like each other. It was great rivalry.
    Its not the same anymore. Now Jerry Jones is like Jed’s idol…and because of the mass California exodus so many Bay Area people live in the DFW Metroplex(including myself) that it is like 49er country now.
    I do know one thing Dallas played their starters last week to obtain the higher seed to draw this matchup instead of facing the Rams or Cardinals….so 49ers…..give these Cowboys what they asked for…they rubbed that jeanie bottle wishing for the 49ers and now the smoke is coming. Get your popcorn ready.

  24. and even more memories..

    1970 (I was 15) – last game in Kezar (a stadium located in Golden Gate Park smack in the middle of SF, for those unaware) – Niners were favored but Duane Thomas (look him up) ran roughshod over a favored Niners team in a 17-10 game that was the first NFC Championship game (pre merger, which took place in 1970). Roger Staubach was the backup to Craig Morton

  25. I was in the stands at the Stick when Clark made The Catch but at the other side of the field, plus I was a little kid, so it was a hard see. However, I do remember the crowd going absolutely berserk, beer being thrown all over, etc. Good times.

  26. Mike McCarthy: “It may not be has hard to win this game as I thought it was going to be.”
    ==========

    “I do not think that means what you think it means..”

  27. I still hate the Cowboys from those games in the 90s. I was happy to see the 49ers drew the Cowboys-thanks Eagles, for playing your JV squad and getting blown out on Saturday.

  28. What they do know is coach choked in two Super Bowls. Had great first half’s but changed play calling that resulted in two loses! Following in his dad’s footsteps I guess!

  29. That’s just sad.

    As a Niners fan, for at least a decade, the Niners-Cowboys rivalry was (mostly) what the NFL meant to me.

    I especially recall Eric Davis’s pick-6 in the ’94 NFC title game.

    I want to say “I can’t believe” that current 49er players don’t know about this.

    However, this total lack of interest in history is ubiquitous, and sad.

    You would think that players on a team as storied as the 49ers, would know the barest minimum about that team’s history.

    Have they never heard of Joe Montana? Jerry Rice? Steve Young? Ronnie Lott?

    They probably don’t know who Roger Craig is.

    Or Charles Haley.

    Or Brent Jones.

    Or John Taylor.

    Or Harris Barton.

    Or Tom Rathman.

    Or Merton Hanks.

    Or Michael Carter.

    Or Randy Cross.

    I could go on, and on.

    When I see old video (which sometimes plays while waiting for after-game interviews, or at other times), I often recognize 49er players, without seeing their faces, and sometimes without seeing their numbers – just from the shape of their bodies, and how they move.

    The current players really should watch some film from the “glory days” (and other times).

    Probably during the off-season.

    However, maybe they could squeeze in watching at least one Niners-Cowboys post-season game before then.

  30. What they do know is coach choked in two Super Bowls. Had great first half’s but changed play calling that resulted in two loses! Following in his dad’s footsteps I guess!
    ==========

    Guess you skipped the obliteration of the Chargers in ’94. As perfect a game as I have ever seen from an offense.

    ’97 was mastery as well. Terrell Davis missed nearly a whole quarter, otherwise Timmy Smith may have got a run for his money.

    Not sure Mike Shanahan is a guy you want to take aim at.

  31. Well to be fair the two aren’t the CLEARLY best teams in one half of the league and arguably all of it as once was the case. Names like Montana, young, rice, Taylor, Lott, aikman, Irvin, smith, Allen aren’t walking through that door to use the parlance. It isn’t an arms race to ask the almighty question of which team has Charles Haley, Deion Sanders, Ken Noron Jr. we are passed the time in this league where 3-4 clearly better alpha teams are just eyeing eachother all year. The same sentiment the year the Giants and the 49ers were as close as a MattBarr field goal separated them. Or Miami and Chicago eyeing each other all year waiting for a game in week 13. Parity reigns now for good and bad

  32. Most players think of themselves as employees of the NFL first, the team second and for an arbitrary period of time. As long as they are in the league, that is what matters. Can’t expect them think of it like a fan does, rooting for the laundry every Sunday for years.

  33. I’d forgotten about the Cowboys/Niners rivalry, and I watched those 90s games. But the Cowboys/Washington rivalry hasn’t really been a thing either. When was the last time Washington had a football team that anyone considered a rival?

  34. Niners-Cowboys USED to be a rivalry. It’s not a rivalry now. It’s just 2 teams playing in the playoffs.

  35. RoaminGabriel says:
    January 11, 2022 at 5:52 pm
    I’d forgotten about the Cowboys/Niners rivalry, and I watched those 90s games. But the Cowboys/Washington rivalry hasn’t really been a thing either. When was the last time Washington had a football team that anyone considered a rival?

    —————————————————

    Cowboys either

  36. That was the best football ever. I was never in to football/49ers more than 94 season. It was door die. No way could they let the Cowboys win 3 in a row.

  37. “The catch” is the most overrated, over-hyped event in sports history. Some dude barely jumps to catch a poorly thown ball in the endzone, and 49ers’ fans act like it was some major feat of athleticism.

  38. Don’t forget Richard Dent there for his swan song ring, Ricky Watters tearing up the league, William Floyd punishing linebackers, Dana Stubblefield and Bryant Young both all-pro DTs and Merton Hanks doing the chicken dance after every pick for his young daughter.

  39. In 1992 the Forty Whiners were a heavily favored dynasty while the Cowboys were an upstart team
    lead by some college coach that needed to be swatted like a fly to learn their place in the NFL.
    After that NFC Championship game and a Cowboys victory the NFL was in stunned disbelief.
    The Whiners were never the same afterward and the following year Jimmy Johnson predicted the Cowboys would win the Championship game again saying you can put it in 3 inch headlines.
    The Whiners had to mortgage their future under the 1st year of the salary cap and aquire everyone elses great player to beat the Cowboys in 1994 never winning a SB again and the NFL lived happily ever after.

  40. Troy Aikman owned Steve Young in the first two championship games. The games were decided in the second half where Aikman raised his game, and Young played horrible. Then the 49ers signed Deion Sanders and he shut down half the field, the other guys took care of the other half. I was happy for Young. Deion got the monkey off his back.

  41. PartyonWayne says:
    January 11, 2022 at 2:28 pm

    I grew up in the 90s, and I knew all about the great games and rivalries of the 60, 70s and 80s. So, what’s going on with these kids parents? Raised by Ipads probably.
    —————————————

    Yes & no. There was way less channels to funnel media and way less media and way less current NFL content. So when NFL Films was on glorifying the early days of the NFL, it was one of the few ways to get additional content and it was painted and narrated so well that if you loved football you had to watch it. Now you can just look up a particular great play without watching the entire context of it pieced together within a game or a season. And if you or a buddy happened to have an NFL record book, you poured through that. Now you can just look it up without looking at all of it.

  42. All of the talent in the league was on these 2 teams in this era. They Yankees’d the rest of the NFL until the cap (and even that was flouted in the early years).

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