Dallas defense

Dallas safety Donovan Wilson tackles Philadelphia running back Jason Huntley. The Cowboys (13-4) host the San Francisco 49ers (10-7) Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

There have been several regular season meetings since then, but the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers – one of the NFL’s most storied rivalries – haven’t met in the playoffs, incredibly, since January, 1995.

That changes on Sunday.

The Cowboys, winners of the NFC East Division, will host the 49ers, who got into the NFC playoffs as a wild card on the last weekend of the regular season, on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at AT&T Stadium, broadcast on CBS. It’s a match-up of teams with five Super Bowl wins each.

At press time for this edition of the News Herald, the Cowboys were a three-point favorite.

The 49ers have a longtime Cowboys fan on their roster: left tackle Trent Williams, from Longview, who grew up rooting for America’s Team, but now sits solidly as the anchor of the Niners’ offensive line.

According to the Associated Press on Friday, Williams, who has missed time with an injury, may very well be in the lineup for Sunday’s game.

A Friday report by the AP said that Williams returned to practice Thursday after missing the season finale with an elbow injury and is on target to play against the Cowboys.

“The elbow is doing good,” Williams said. “It’s made a lot of improvement over the last week or so. I practiced today. It felt pretty good.”

Williams’ return would be key as the Niners must contend with Dallas’ star edge rushers DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Micah Parsons.

Williams has been one of the NFL’s best left tackles this season, fueling San Francisco’s running game and allowing just one sack all year, according to Pro Football Focus.

“He’s the best football player I’ve ever played with, so it’s very helpful,” tight end George Kittle said about Williams’ likely return this week.

Also for the 49ers, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was a full participant in practice for the first time since injuring his right thumb on Dec. 23. Garoppolo missed one game and was limited all last week before returning to play against the Rams. The 49ers came back from a 17-0 defeat to win the game and get into the postseason.

One other big factor: SF punter Mitch Wishnowsky suffered a concussion in the game against the Rams and didn’t finish it.

The 49ers’ most electrifying player has been wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who also has been excellent running the ball. He finished the regular season with 77 catches for 1,405 yards, and 365 rushing yards to go with 14 total touchdowns.

The Cowboys have been fantastic against their division rivals, but weak against other opponents (a 6-5 record this season). Dallas does get Parsons, a rookie linebacker, and left tackle Tyron Smith back after being on the COVID-19 list last week.

Most of the Cowboys’ playoff history was at Texas Stadium, but Dallas has played four games at AT&T Stadium – they’re 3-1 in those games. The 49ers are 18-7 on the road the last three seasons, the second-best record in the NFL during that time.

Dallas led the NFL in scoring this season (530 points, 31 points a game) and in takeaways (34). Cornerback Trevon Diggs leads the league with 11 interceptions.

The Cowboys are 19-17-1 all-time against the 49ers. Read more about the history between the teams on page 2B.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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