A year later, the sunken feeling and disappointment Cowboys worked to overcome returned

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A stoic Jayron Kearse walked off the field and through a Levi’s Stadium tunnel like he’d seen a ghost for a second time. Twenty minutes later, as dozens

of teammates showered and dressed, the Cowboys safety sat in full uniform, hands clasped, head down, his body swaying back and forth as if strapped to a rocking chair.

Defensive line coach Aden Durde walked over and spoke quietly to him. Joe Smith, a GA athletic trainer, followed and did the same. Then came safety Malik Hooker, as an

inconsolable Kearse finally splintered the quiet room with a heaving cry. Kearse received help to remove his shoulder pads, and he slammed the bottom of his locker.

That bottoming feeling again. The Cowboys never forgot their emotions when the San Francisco 49ers ousted them from the playoffs last January. That sunken,

ever-unwelcome feeling returned Sunday. Another 12-win regular season and another tight-knit team met their end to the 49ers by another seven-point margin, this one a 19-12

final. The finality was palpable. There was Tony Pollard, the lightning-rod running back who dazzled all season, exiting the stadium on crutches with his left foot

in a protective boot. He suffered a high ankle sprain and fibula fracture that will require surgery, a person familiar the injury said. There was defensive tackle Carlos Watkins,

who also wore a boot because of a calf injury.