While sitting third in the NFC West with a 10-7 record to close the regular season, the San Francisco 49ers chances of hosting a postseason contest at home are slim. To be frank, it would require a number of shocking upsets and, ultimately, the seventh-seeded Philadelphia Eagles to reign supreme over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers followed by the Green Bay Packers (and San Francisco making it to the NFC Championship game).
But as of now, San Francisco is focused on what lies ahead and that's Sunday's Wild Card matchup as the team heads to Dallas to take on the NFC East-champion Cowboys.
If you ask any team, you'd much rather play at home, in front of your own fans and the advantages they could create. But being on the road to open up the postseason might not be the worst thing for San Francisco.
Over the last 3 seasons (2019-21), San Francisco's 18 regular season victories on the road (.720 winning percentage) are the third-most in the NFL over that span (Kansas City Chiefs - 20; New Orleans Saints - 19). Since 2019, the 49ers have outscored their opponents 660-508 on the road. The team's +152 road scoring margin is tied for the sixth-best in the NFL over that span. Additionally, the 49ers have an average time of possession of 31:49 on the road over the last three seasons, the third highest in the NFL.
The 49ers have won six of their nine games on the road this season, with all three losses coming within a single score. On the contrary, the team opened up the season struggling at home going 0-4 before rattling off four-straight home victories to close out the year.
Reflecting on the 49ers 2019 Super Bowl run, the energy at Levi's® Stadium was unmatched. It's also quite likely that home-field advantage played a part in the opposition's downfall.
But the same could be said about the team's season finale at SoFi Stadium, where 49ers fans showed up in droves and made it difficult for the Los Angeles Rams offense to operate at times.
The 49ers are hoping for the same effect in Dallas, and as history has told, it wouldn't be a rare occurrence.
There is a half a century's-worth of history between the 49ers and Cowboys, dating back to the 1970's NFC Championship games, the 1981 matchup that birthed "The Catch" en route to sending San Francisco to Super Bowl XVI and then the intensified rivalry from 1992 to 1994 as the two teams faced each other in the championship round three-straight times, with the victor going on to win the ensuing Super Bowl.
But more recently, the Cowboys hosted the 49ers in the 2014 season opener in a memorable showing, and not just from San Francisco's performance on the field. The 49ers notched a 28-17 victory on the road in front of a crowd that turned AT&T Stadium's 88,000-seat capacity into a complete sea of red. When San Francisco went up 14-3 in the first quarter, FOX cut to a shot of the crowd where the turnout of 49ers Faithful was overwhelming. According to reporters in Dallas, it was estimated that between 40 and 50 percent of the crowd were in support of the 49ers.
Just a game removed from seeing the impact that a well-traveled fan base can have on a game's outcome (Matthew Stafford had to use the silent count for the majority of the second half), the team is hopeful for a similar effect in Dallas.
"Dallas fans do a pretty good job filling that stadium, so I'd be shocked if it's even remotely close to what we experienced in Los Angeles," former Cowboys quarterback and now-FOX Sports analyst Troy Aikman said on his weekly interview on 96.7 FM/1310 AM The Ticket.
Sunday will mark both teams' first postseason meeting since January of 1995 when the 49ers garnered a 38-28 victory at home in the NFC Championship game en route to the franchise's fifth Super Bowl title.
San Francisco will need to play near-perfect football against Dallas' high-powered offense and a defense that led the league in takeaways. But they'll also need to stick with what's worked on the road this season – and will embrace all of the "home field" advantage the Faithful add in the road showdown.