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Rams-49ers: A rivalry of 2 dominant NFC West forces, year after year

A look at the history behind one of the NFL’s best rivalries

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We are just days removed from the spectacular beating on Monday Night Football that saw the Los Angeles Rams fall to the San Francisco 49ers 24-9. The loss will still seem fresh three weeks from now when the division rivals see each other for the rematch, as the rivalry between friends Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan has delivered some of the NFL’s best moments in the last five years, including the 2021 NFC Championship.

Unfortunately for the Rams, most of those wins belong to Shanahan. Thankfully for McVay, he’s still the one with the Lombardi Trophy. What’s next for the Rams and 49ers?

First, let’s revisit what has happened in the past.

LA’s current head-to-head record: 67-75-3

The history

The two teams were destined to be fierce competitors when the National Football League and the All-America Football Conference merged in the 1950s and the 49ers and Rams were placed in the National Conference together.

Ever since that decision was made, the two have seen each other twice every single year. Their close proximity to one another in the state of California also meant a difference in beliefs and cultures that were geographically based and which fueled the fire between not only the two teams, but also their fan bases. The absolute distain the two fan bases have for one another has been a tradition passed down from generation to generation—this historical hate ranks as seventh in the NFL’s all time best rivalries according to CBS Sports.

Since the configuration of the NFC West, the Rams and Niners have owned the division with a combined 35 division championships (Rams: 15, 49ers: 20) and both have experienced historic greatness. From 1990-1998, the 49ers went 17-0 with Steve Young at quarterback against both LA and St. Louis before losing their first game to the Rams in 1999, the season that Kurt Warner took The Greatest Show on Turf to the Super Bowl and won it all.

The playoffs

Though both teams have had great success in their histories, they have only seen each other twice in the playoffs. Their first postseason matchup was in 1990 NFC Championship and featured a clash between Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana and LA’s Jim Everett. Ultimately the 49ers came out on top with a 30-3 victory on their way to win the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos the next game.

The next time the two would see each other in the playoffs was this last year where the Rams pulled off a 20-17 comeback victory in the NFC Championship Game. History would repeat itself with the victor of the matchup going on to win the Super Bowl.

To the future...

As time has persisted, the rivalry between the two has only gotten stronger with the players on both sides embracing the competition, “Anytime we play it’s a dogfight,” Aaron Donald explained at the beginning of the season, “No love at all towards them guys.”

Most recently San Francisco wide receiver Deebo Samuel took to Twitter to fuel the fire even more.

With the NFC West still wide open it is expected that LA and San Francisco will be fighting for the top of the division, but if recent history reminds us of anything, it is that Kyle Shanahan’s team owns the Rams. McVay gets a shot at redemption on Oct. 30, when the 49ers travel to SoFi Stadium in what should be another physical bout between the two teams.

Will the Rams, still feeling the pain from their fresh wounds, find a way to get a win over the 49ers in the regular season? Or will San Fran continue to manhandle LA into submission using the same tactics as always?

The rivalry is a story as old as the NFC. But it’s not done being written.