Four Cowboys, four 49ers recall two-decade battle for supremacy

San Francisco 49ers training camp August 3, 1982 at Sierra College, Rocklin, California. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana 16) and wide receiver Dwight Clark (87). (AP Photo/Al Golub)


(Joe Montana, Dwight Clark photo courtesy of San Francisco 49ers)
(Charles Haley photo courtesy of Dallas Cowboys)

Talk of Fame Network

This week’s “Best of Talk of Fame Network’’ show reprises one of our most popular discussions: The great decade-long rivalry between the San Francisco 49er and Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas vs. San Francisco was the epic fight for control of the 1980s and 1990s, a seesaw battle dominated by the 49ers until they made the mistake of dealing future Hall-of-Fame pass rusher Charles Haley to Dallas. That trade is widely believed to have been the final piece of the puzzle for the Cowboys, who won three Super Bowls in the 1990s after struggling without much luck against the 49ers of the 1980s, with Haley leading the defensive charge.

Hall-of-Fame quarterback Joe Montana and the receiver who made “The Catch’’ for him, Dwight Clark, discuss those early years of dominance in San Francisco, when they won four Super Bowls and became one of the great dynasties in football history, as well as Clark’s role in Montana’s departure and how it affected their relationship for years.

Hall-of-Famer Steve Young, who replaced Montana in what became a difficult transition for both, and versatile running back Roger Craig recall those days, as well as the controversy that erupted in the Bay Area when the 49ers made the decision to send Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs and replace him with Young.

From Dallas’ point of view, that was not the moment that changed the balance of power between them. It was the arrival of Haley in 1992 after six disruptive years and three Pro Bowl seasons in San Francisco. Russell Maryland, Darren Woodson and Daryl Johnston discuss the impact of Haley’s arrival on the Cowboys and how the many battles between the two teams led to a sense of brotherhood difficult to understand if you weren’t part of it.

They also recall the importance of Jimmy Johnson’s arrival on the Cowboys and how he changed the environment inside Dallas’ locker room.

Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott agrees, both on the impact of losing Haley and on the hard edge to the rivalry between the best teams of the 1980s and 1990s and the clubs that defined two decades of NFL football. You can hear Lott and all eight interviews on 80 radio stations around the country, on our iTune podcast, by using the TuneIn radio app or by going to our website, and clicking on the microphone icon.

Listen now!

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1 Comment

  1. Rasputin
    July 15, 2016

    It actually started in the early 1970s with the Cowboys downing the 49ers in the playoffs three years in a row. They only met in the playoffs once in the 80s, in an obscure game probably no one has heard about or seen 50 clips of a single play from taken from various angles every time it’s mentioned. Then it became a really big deal in the 1990s, when both teams were clearly superpowers duking it out. That was the climax of the Great Team Era, before the onset of parity, and you had the long term best franchises in the NFL appropriately dominating the league. The Cowboys ultimately brought their postseason record against the 49ers to 5-2. I’ll add that while Haley was significant, conversations like this give too much credit to his arrival. There was obviously a lot more than just one player involved in the Cowboys rising to become the team of the 90s.

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