To this day, every fiber of my being crackles with seething, bitter scorn for those fancy lads by the Bay. Their colors. Their fans. Their pinot gris and charcuterie tailgates. Their undeniable excellence during the Bill Walsh era. From Montana and Rice, Clark and Craig, Rathman and Lott to Young, TO, Haley, Deion and, perhaps most of all, Merton F’ing Hanks...
Any list of Niner greats reminds me of bullies who stole my lunch money, psycho ex-girlfriends, or horrible bosses. After all, this is the franchise that coined the term “same old Rams,” and for much of my adult life, have made us their absolute bitch (including one 17-game stretch spanning 8.5 years). I realize it’s not healthy to harbor grudges or to live life in the past.
But the damage is irreparable.
Here are a few moments from my personal history in the Rams-49ers rivalry
October 23, 1983
San Francisco 45, Los Angeles 35
A few years removed from the Ram’s Super Bowl appearance, a battle-tested Vince Ferragamo dueled with fresh-faced 1982 Super Bowl MVP Joe Montana in Anaheim. The Rams would take a 35-24 fourth quarter lead behind 5 Ferragamo TDs (and 25/144 from a rookie RB from SMU named Eric Dickerson), but the Niners would do the rest of the scoring, finishing the game with 21 unanswered. It was my 12th birthday, and the first of many face-palm inducing late-game Rams collapses.
December 11, 1989
San Francisco 30, Los Angeles 27
Once again, the Rams entered the fourth quarter with a two score lead at 24-10. A Mike Lansford 22-yard FG would push the lead to 27-10. Safe, right? Not so much. This is the infamous John Taylor game, where he took not one but two WR screens to the house, from 92 and 95 yards out (on Monday Night Football, no less). The 1989 season was supposed to be the changing of the guard for Jim Everett and the upstart Rams, but unfortunately this was where the “same old Rams” saying began to take shape.
September 8, 1996
San Francisco 34, St. Louis 0
My Dad and I made the trip down to San Francisco for the game at Candlestick. We had a blast walking around Fisherman’s Wharf and sharing a few meals with one of his oldest friends. That was on Saturday. Veteran QB Steve Walsh had been brought in during the offseason to keep the chair warm for rookie second-rounder Tony Banks. After Walsh started 2-6 with an INT, Rams HC Rich Brooks benched him for Banks, whose NFL career began on his OWN TWO YARD LINE. He was of course promptly sacked in the end zone for a safety, a harbinger for/microcosm of Banks’ atrocious tenure with the Rams. Tickets didn’t cost as much back then, but it’s never fun to make a special trip to see your team get shut out in a hostile road stadium.
Sunday, October 10, 1999
St. Louis 42, San Francisco 20
After 17 straight losses and 8.5 years the Greatest Show On Turf finally ended the drought with a resounding 42-20 drubbing. In just his 4th career start, Kurt Warner would go 20-23 for 323 yards and 5 TDs, 4 of which wound up in the hands of a vengeful, emphatic Ike Bruce. This game finally signaled the changing of the guard in the NFC West.
September 23, 2001
St. Louis 30, San Francisco 26
I was living in SF at the time, and My Mom and Dad were set to join me at Candlestick to watch the third (and best) of the Mike Martz era GSOT teams light up the Niners. Less than two weeks prior, a little life-changing event called 9/11 happened. Though there was likely never a safer time to fly in US history, it was also a scary time – but my parents still made the trip. The Rams made it worthwhile, as Kurt Warner threw for 321/3, Isaac Bruce racked up 144 yards receiving, and Marshall Faulk tallied 184 all-purpose. I’ll never forget the pre-game ceremonies on a day when the game took a backseat.
November 2, 2003
San Francisco 30, St. Louis 10
I was still in the Bay Area, and remember sitting in the Niners section for this game. It began with a 95 yard Cedrick Wilson kickoff return, and just went downhill from there as the Rams didn’t bother to show up. We still had some firepower left in the passing game – Bulger threw for 378 – but our post-GSOT roster had been picked clean and was ravaged by injuries as we got waxed by mastermind HC Dennis Erickson and all-world QB Tim Rattay on a forgettable afternoon at 3COM. One thing I do remember was leaving early just as the Niners were about to go up 30-3. An SF fan started to complain that I was blocking his view as I got up to leave – but shut up pretty quickly when I stared him down – maybe it was the sour remains of a 5-beer buzz, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been quite so pissed off at a football game.
Recent History and the McVay Era
The Rams and the 49ers would finish the 2000s with an even 10-10 record. Thus far this decade, San Fran leads the series at 10-5-1, and have edged ahead in the all-time series 69-65-3. With season sweeps in 2018 and 2019, the Rams can tie the series up and hopefully begin their own 8.5 year reign of dominance. This isn’t about Janeane Garofalo or CJ BeatHard, Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Sean McVay or Kyle Shanahan. This is about pride and rivalry, and good old-fashioned Whiner hatred. We must crush them. And if I never have to see another Jeff Garcia jump-pass as long as I live....