Rams can’t count 49ers as rivals until they beat them – Press Enterprise


Whose house?

The Rams have squatters’ rights on the silver-bullet stadium in Inglewood, the one that replaced a perfectly good racetrack.

But for the past three seasons, the 49ers have had custody of the Rams.

San Francisco’s sixth consecutive win in the rivalry on Jan. 9 was particularly inflammatory, considering the Rams once led that home game 17-0. Worse yet, Matthew Stafford was having trouble making himself heard with all the 49ers fans around him.

You can’t spell SoFi Stadium without “SF.”

“If you were going to write a book, this is how you’d write the book,” Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said after they stopped their own bleeding and topped Tampa Bay on Sunday.

“We were talking about it before the game,” offensive lineman Joe Noteboom said. “The stars are aligned for us to play them in SoFi. We need to get a win against them.”

But actually, San Francisco has a long-term lease on the Rams regardless of location.

The two were competitive NFC West rivals until the 49ers throttled the Rams, 30-3, in the 1989 NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park. The Rams won their next meeting, 28-17, and then didn’t beat the Niners again until 1999, when they had decamped to St. Louis and built a Super Bowl champion. Then came six consecutive Rams victories over San Francisco.

And, beginning in 1967, the Rams had a 21-3-1 edge in the head-to-head.

The NFL champion Rams of 1951 took a 44-17 licking from the 49ers but rebounded the following week and won, 23-16. They took the Western Conference by a half-game over San Francisco and Detroit.

In 1954-56 the 49ers had the Million Dollar Backfield of Y.A. Tittle, Joe Perry, Hugh McIlhenny and John Henry Johnson. No, they didn’t come close to making a million, even as a group, but they all went to the Hall of Fame. They were 1-5 against the Rams.

So there isn’t as much friction as, say, the Giants-Dodgers relationship, which features a late-season knockout scenario more years than not.

The 49ers and Rams have played on alternating current for the most part, which is why the current trend is so galling to Rams fans.

Why, the 2016 49ers of Chip Kelly even beat the Rams twice. They beat nobody else all year. The Rams remain the last team to lose to Colin Kaepernick.

And their flushing of that 17-0 lead 16 days ago wasn’t their first. They also led San Francisco, 17-0, in 1989. The 49ers won, 30-27, when John Taylor took Joe Montana’s passes 92 and 95 yards for touchdowns and finished with 286 receiving yards.

That game was also famous for a fake field-goal attempt that John Robinson called, supposedly going from holder Pete Holohan to linebacker Matt Wilcher. It fell short, the Rams only led, 17-3, and the flood followed.

Occasionally the Rams beat the 49ers and make it hurt. In 1982, the defending Super Bowl champs needed a win to make the Super Bowl tournament in a strike-afflicted season. Ray Wersching lined up for a 24-yard field goal, but Ivory Sully, a kick-blocking artiste, jumped through and muffled it. The Rams, already out of the picture, improved to 2-7 with a 21-20 win.

“They were telling us their bags were packed for the playoffs,” Sully said. “But that’s how I made the team, blocking kicks. I blocked one against the Jets and John Madden and Pat Summerall were there. When you hear your name spoken by them, it’s special.

“Our 49ers games were always more contentious. We were the team in the West when I came up. Then they got Walsh and Montana. It’s a little bit extra. You run a little bit harder. It’s a battle of wills, but with these two teams, I think it’s on. For the Rams, they have to take away the 49ers’ heart, and you do that by running through them.”

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