The 49ers make their 14th appearance in an NFC Championship game Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Bay Area News Group's Steve Corkran takes a brief look at the first 13 games:

1970

Cowboys 17, 49ers 10

Jan. 3, 1971/Kezar Stadium

Key moment: Duane Thomas broke a 3-3 tie with a 13-yard run in the third quarter as the Cowboys ended the 49ers' first postseason run since the 1957 season.

The hero: Thomas rushed for 143 yards on 27 carries and one of the Cowboys' two touchdowns. Dallas rushed for 229 yards and amassed only 90 net yards passing.

1971

Cowboys 14, 49ers 3

Jan. 2, 1972/Texas Stadium

Key moment: Duane Thomas broke open a close game with a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as the Cowboys eliminated the 49ers for the second straight season.

The hero: The Cowboys defense intercepted 49ers quarterback John Brodie three times and held him to less than 50 percent passing.

1981

49ers 28, Cowboys 27

Jan. 10, 1982/Candlestick Park

Key moment: Joe Montana and wide receiver Dwight Clark connected for a 6-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter on a play now known as The Catch. The play erased a six-point deficit for the 49ers and proved the difference in their advancing to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

The hero: Defensive end Jim Stuckey recovered a Danny White fumble on the Cowboys' final possession to preserve the victory.

1983

Redskins 24, 49ers 21

Jan. 8, 1984/Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium

Key moment: Officials called 49ers cornerback Eric Wright for pass interference on a pass that seemed uncatchable, late in the fourth quarter, with the score tied at 21. The 49ers argued the ball wasn't catchable and, therefore, the penalty should be waved off, all to no avail. That helped thwart a 49ers comeback from a 21-0 deficit.

The hero: Mark Moseley kicked a game-deciding field goal late in the fourth quarter after missing four attempts earlier.

1984

49ers 23, Bears 0

Jan. 6, 1985/Candlestick Park

Key moment: A 9-yard touchdown run by 49ers running back Wendell Tyler broke open a close game and propelled the rout. Tyler's TD made it 13-0 and all but ended the Bears' hopes of a comeback.

The hero: The 49ers defense sacked Steve Fuller nine times and intercepted one of his passes in holding the Bears to 186 yards offense.

1988

49ers 28, Bears 3

Jan. 8, 1989/Soldier Field

Key moment: A 61-yard catch-and-run play by wide receiver Jerry Rice staked the 49ers to a 7-0 lead and signaled to the Bears that they were in for a long day.

The hero: Rice caught five passes for 133 yards and scored both of the 49ers' first-half touchdowns.

1989

49ers 30, Rams 3

Jan. 14, 1990/Candlestick Park

Key moment: The 49ers erased a 3-0 deficit with three touchdowns in the second quarter as the Rams proved ill equipped to handle the 49ers offense.

The hero: Joe Montana completed 26 of 30 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns.

1990

Giants 15, 49ers 13

Jan. 20, 1991/Candlestick Park

Key moment: Running back Roger Craig fumbled late in the game as the 49ers attempted to run out the clock. Instead, the Giants kicked a game-deciding field goal after Craig's gaffe.

The hero: Matt Bahr converted five field goals in accounting for all the Giants' scoring. His final field goal proved the difference and launched the Giants into the Super Bowl.

1992

Cowboys 30, 49ers 20

Jan. 17, 1993/Candlestick Park

Key moment: The second of Troy Aikman's two fourth-quarter touchdown passes snuffed out the 49ers' comeback bid and propelled the Cowboys to the first of three Super Bowls they would win in a four-year span.

The hero: Running back Emmitt Smith totaled 173 yards and two touchdowns rushing and receiving.

1993

Cowboys 38, 49ers 21

Jan. 23, 1994/Texas Stadium

Key moment: A 19-yard touchdown from Troy Aikman to tight end Jay Novacek capped a torrid first half for the Cowboys and placed the overwhelmed 49ers in an untenable situation.

The hero: Running back Emmitt Smith rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown and added 85 yards and a touchdown receiving in dominating the 49ers in the postseason for the second straight season.

1994

49ers 38, Cowboys 28

Jan. 15, 1995/Candlestick Park

Key moment: Cornerback Eric Davis returned an interception of Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman 44 yards for a touchdown that set the tone for an overall dominant performance by the 49ers.

The hero: Davis recorded two of the 49ers' three interceptions and helped prevent the Cowboys from overcoming a 21-0 deficit.

1997

Packers 23, 49ers 10

Jan. 11, 1998/Candlestick Park

Key moment: Defensive back Eugene Robinson returned an interception of Steve Young 58 yards and placed the Packers in prime position to increase their lead to 10-0 over the 49ers early in the second quarter.

The hero: Packers running back Dorsey Levens rushed for a franchise postseason record 114 yards and one touchdown.

2011

Giants 20, 49ers 17 (OT)

Jan. 22, 2012/Candlestick Park

Key moment: Kyle Williams fumbled on a punt return in overtime, which the Giants parlayed into a game-winning field goal in an upset of the 49ers.

The hero: Lawrence Tynes kicked the second of his two 31-yard field goals to break a 17-17 tie and send the Giants to the Super Bowl.