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September 26, 2013

‘Rivalry’ resumes for 49ers, Rams

ST. LOUIS — Though the St. Louis Rams were among the few teams enjoying the upper hand against the San Francisco 49ers last year, coach Jeff Fisher says it’s far from a rivalry.

Counting one playoff game, the series that used to be a battle of California is tied 62-62-3, with both teams at .500 at home and on the road entering Thursday night’s matchup. Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson showed up for Rams practice during the short-week buildup and fondly recalled any 49ers matchup as a big game.

“We hate the Niners,” said the 53-year-old Dickerson, who starred for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1980s. “That hasn’t changed. Anytime you face the 49ers I like their chances, even if the Rams were 0-5.

“There’s something about that game, the level of play steps up.”

San Francisco dominated for a long stretch before 2012, going 11-3 the previous seven seasons.

“Last year we got our feet back on the map,” Fisher said. “But I don’t think there’s a rivalry yet. Hopefully, it will become one.”

Since beating the Packers in the opener, the 49ers have been outscored 36-10 in losses to Seattle and Indianapolis. Sam Bradford absorbed his first six sacks of the year and the Rams (also 1-2) fell behind early for the third straight time — way behind — in a 31-7 setback at Dallas.

“We’re facing adversity. It gives us the opportunity to stare it in the face and respond,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “That’s a relentless quest for improvement, that’s where we’re at.”

Familiar foes:Besides meeting twice a year, last season they played nearly 10 quarters, with the first NFL tie in four seasons and a Rams victory late in overtime in the rematch. While both sides bemoaned missed opportunities, they loved what Fisher called “knock-down, drag-out” games that Harbaugh noted were “hotly contested.”

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