Super Bowl LVIII’s matchup gives Cowboys fans a difficult decision on who to root for. While many may feel oversaturated with talk of a Chiefs dynasty and perhaps a little weary of the Mahomes/Reid/Kelce/Swift Extravaganza, no one in Cowboys Nation is particularly eager to see the 49ers move past Dallas by winning a sixth Lombardi Trophy.
But while the teams taking playing in Las Vegas on Feb. 11 may not spur much enthusiasm from the Cowboys faithful, there will be a few individuals on the field with connections to the star.
Here’s a quick look at a few of the names that may be familiar to Cowboys fans when this year’s big game kicks off.
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49ers DE Randy Gregory
Gregory’s long and winding NFL journey brought him to San Francisco in an early-October trade, but he started his pro career as a Cowboy. Projected to be a high-first-round draft pick out of Nebraska in 2015, Gregory’s stock fell due to a failed test for marijuana at the scouting combine. The Cowboys got him toward the end of the second round.
He missed two seasons entirely and most of a third in his first five years in Dallas, making just 28 game appearances from 2015 through 2019. The Cowboys stuck with him through multiple suspensions (for violating the league’s now-outdated substance abuse policies), but he rewarded the club upon his return in 2020 by compiling 40 tackles, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception returned for a touchdown in 22 games over the next season and a half. He was even named to the Cowboys’ leadership council by head coach Mike McCarthy.
But a reported disagreement over a contractual clause saw a disgruntled Gregory leave for Denver in the 2022 offseason. Injury and a nasty postgame fight with an opponent marred his first year as a Bronco; new coach Sean Payton benched him in Week 4 of the 2023 season. He was traded to the 49ers and has appeared in 12 regular-season games plus San Francisco’s two playoff contests this year. Gregory is considered the team’s backup right defensive end behind Nick Bosa.
49ers CB Charvarius Ward
Ward went undrafted out of Middle Tennessee State in 2018 and looked to break in during training camp with a Cowboys cornerbacks group that included Byron Jones, Xavier Woods, Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown, and Chidobe Awuzie.
The Chiefs traded for Ward just prior to the start of the 2018 season. He played four years with Kansas City, racking up 43 regular-season starts (and 10 more in the postseason) and earning a Super Bowl ring for the Chiefs’ title run of 2019.
He signed with San Francsico in March 2022 and has started every game for the 49ers since. He led the league this year in passes defended while playing over 85% of the defense’s snaps.
49ers Asst HC/RB coach Anthony Lynn
A Texas native, Lynn served as Cowboys running backs coach in 2005 and 2006, the first two years of the Julius Jones/Marion Barber III tandem. He left Dallas upon the retirement of Bill Parcells as head coach and went to Cleveland.
Lynn has been on staff with nine NFL teams since 2000 and was the Chargers’ head man for four seasons.
Chiefs TE Blake Bell
Nicknamed “The Belldozer,” the tight end out of Kansas was actually a fourth-round draft pick by the 49ers in 2015. After bouncing around with several teams (including the Chiefs in 2019), Bell landed in Dallas in 2020 and was intended to fill the blocking tight end role that had been filled by Jason Witten in his return season.
He became the backup tight end behind Dalton Schultz after Blake Jarwin was lost to a season-ending injury and played in all 16 games that season. He re-signed with Kanas City in 2021 and has been there ever since, winning two Super Bowls over his two stints with the Chiefs.