SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Christian McCaffrey scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter and San Francisco’s defense did the rest, sending the 49ers to their second straight NFC title game with a 19-12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

The 49ers (15-4) used back-to-back scoring drives in the second half to wear down the Cowboys (13-6) and win their 12th straight game. San Francisco will play the Eagles next Sunday in Philadelphia in the NFC title game after losing to the Rams in that round a year ago.

The Cowboys lost a record seventh straight in the divisional round and failed to advance to the NFC title game after winning their fifth Super Bowl title since the 1995 season.

Dak Prescott had two interceptions and Brett Maher missed his fifth extra point of the postseason when his attempt was blocked. He later scored two field goals.

The Cowboys had a chance when they took over at their own 18 with 2:59 left, trailing 19-12 after Robbie Gould’s fourth field goal of the game capped a nearly eight-minute drive.

But Prescott threw two straight incompletions and was sacked on third down. Coach Mike McCarthy decided to punt on fourth-and-10, leaving all three timeouts.

Rookie Brock Purdy started the next drive with a 16-yard strike to George Kittle, and San Francisco didn’t give Dallas the ball until there were 45 seconds left at the 6. Dallas never got any closer.

Pardee, the final pick in last April’s draft, improved to 7-0 as a starter after filling in for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo early in Week 13. He went 18-for-28 for 215 yards against the Cowboys, joining Joe Flacco (2008) and Mark Sanchez (2009) as the only rookie QBs to win two playoff starts.

The 49ers took the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter when McCaffrey capped a 91-yard drive with a 2-yard run.

The drive included a 30-yard scramble by Kittle and a pair of defensive tackles against Dallas — including one on Donovan Wilson near the goal line that nullified a third down.

Maher made his second field goal of the game with a 43-yard field goal to cut San Francisco’s lead to 16-12.

The NFL’s two best teams have struggled over the past 13 weeks as the game has been controlled by quarterbacks led by pros Nick Bosa of San Francisco and Mickey Parsons of Dallas.

The Niners turned two first-half interceptions by Prescott into field goals by Robbie Gould to take a 9-6 halftime lead.

The Cowboys scored the only TD of the first half when Prescott played tight end Dalton Schultz for the third time this postseason. But Maher’s low attempt for the extra point was blocked by Samson Ebukam.

Maher redeemed himself a bit by kicking a 25-yard field goal that tied the game at 9 early in the third quarter after Ray-Ray McCloud fumbled on a punt at the San Francisco 21.


The Cowboys’ decision to stick with Maher after he missed four extra points last week looked in doubt when he missed an early extra point.

There was a pre-game dust-up as Maher warmed up. Trent Williams and other 49ers players tried to block his attempts on the San Francisco side, leading to a brief altercation.


Cowboys: RB Tony Pollard left late in the first half after injuring his left ankle on a reception. He did not return to the game. … DT Calvin Watkins (calf) left in first half.

49ers: DE Charles Omenihu (oblique) left briefly in the first half but returned to the game.


The 49ers would advance to their second Super Bowl in the last four seasons with a win in Philadelphia.

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