NFL Rivalry of the 1980s: San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Matt WagnerCorrespondent IIFebruary 6, 2011

With Super Bowl XLV occurring on Feb. 6, 2011, it is time to visit the NFL's best rivalry throughout the 1980s.

Naturally, with the Super Bowl right around the corner, the vast majority of football fans are discussing the upcoming matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.

However, as a result of the Collective Bargaining Agreement uncertainty, now would be a good time to revisit the aforementioned rivalry as we may not experience the matchup for an extended period of time.

The Cowboys-49ers rivalry throughout the 1980s featured many of the NFL's greatest moments, whether it would be the great regular season games to "The Catch" in the 1982 NFC Championship Game, a seemingly improbable play which propelled San Francisco to Super Bowl XVI.

As well as the excellent games between these two, the 1980's 49ers and Cowboys teams boasted a plethora of excellent players such as Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Dwight Clark, Drew Pearson, Edward Lee "Too Tall" Jones, Tony Dorsett and Randy White, while six of these players have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Also featured throughout this rivalry were arguably two of the greatest coaches in NFL history in Bill Walsh and Tom Landry. Walsh and Landry created lasting legacies by revolutionizing the way the game of football is played.

Walsh is well known for creating the West Coast offense, a scheme which utilized the running quarterbacks more such as today's Michael Vick and Tony Romo and the 1990's Warren Moon, the former Tennessee Titans signal caller, arguably one of the 1990's best quarterbacks.

The West Coast offense is also widely used throughout college football, creating most of the levels' high-scoring offenses.

Landry, on the other hand, created the popular 4-3 defense, a strategy which is used by the majority of the NFL's great defensive teams. Landry guided the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories, as well as five NFC Championship Game victories before being, frankly, forced out by then new owner Jerry Jones.

The rivalry was much more than excellent players, it also featured great strategic battles season after season.

The Dallas Cowboys-San Francisco 49ers rivalry had it all, whether it would be the excellent matchups between some of the greatest players and coaches in NFL history, the mutual respect between the two teams or just the big hits.

The Cowboys-49ers was easily the greatest rivalry throughout the 1980s.