Site: Candlestick Park, San Francisco.

Time: 4 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 45,5/WBAL (1090 AM).

Line: 49ers by 8.

Weather forecast: Highs in 50s, partly cloudy, with some showers expected.

Last week: The 49ers (14-3) beat the Chicago Bears, 44-15, and the Cowboys (13-4) beat the Green Bay Packers, 35-9, in their divisional playoff games.

Last meeting: The 49ers, who lost to the Cowboys in the past two NFC title games, beat the Cowboys, 21-14, on Nov. 13 at Candlestick Park, although Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman was hampered by an sore thumb.

Series record: The 49ers have a 10-6-1 edge in regular-season games, but the Cowboys have a 5-1 lead in playoff games. This is the sixth time the teams have met in the NFC title game, the Cowboys winning four of them. It's only the second time the same two teams have met three years in a row in the conference title game. Pittsburgh beat Oakland in the 1974 and '75 AFC title games, but lost to the Raiders in the '76 AFC title game.

On the sidelines: George Seifert, in his sixth season, is 82-23 overall and 7-3 in the playoffs for the 49ers. All three playoff losses have come in the NFC title game, including two to Dallas. Barry Switzer, in his first season as Cowboys coach, is 13-4.

What the 49ers have to do to win: Stop the Cowboys' running game -- whether or not Emmitt Smith is in top form -- and pray for more rain because Troy Aikman isn't noted for throwing a wet ball well. A good game from Steve Young is critical, too. Nobody on the field faces more pressure than he does, but he says he's used to it.

What the Cowboys have to do to win: Find a cure for Smith's ailing hamstring. He's likely to start, though he's not likely to finish. The Cowboys need to get some rhythm into the offense so they can set a tempo and get a lead. Blair Thomas isn't going to win this game for them.

Injury report: Cowboys -- T Larry Allen (ankle), DE Shante Carver (groin), G Nate Newton (toe), RB Emmitt Smith (hamstring) are questionable. QB Troy Aikman (knee), S Bill Bates (thumb), DE Charles Haley (ankle), WR Alvin Harper (quadriceps), DT Chad Hennings (elbow), WR Michael Irvin (quadriceps), G Derek Kennard (knee), DT Leon Lett (ankle), DT Russell Maryland (quadriceps), T Mark Tuinei (back), WR Kevin Williams (ankle), S Darren Woodson (back) are probable. 49ers -- LB Anthony Peterson (hamstring) is out. T Steve Wallace (stomach flu) is probable.

Outlook: This is being touted as the real Super Bowl, and the scary thing is that it could turn into a Super Bowl-type game (one-sided, that is) if Smith can't go very long. The Cowboys have yet to win in the six games when Smith has carried fewer than seven times since he joined the team. If Smith is forced out, the 49ers should win easily.

Vito Stellino's pick: 49ers 27, Cowboys 17 -- If the 49ers win, they'll be presented the NFC trophy on the field instead of in the locker room so the fans can enjoy it. While they're at it, they might as well give them the Super Bowl trophy so the 49ers' fans can celebrate that, too.

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