Slow starts from Rams, 49ers put a damper on potential grudge match

Grudge match? Hey, at this point, the Rams and 49ers are both just trying to win a game

ST. LOUIS -- If you're trying to work yourself into a frenzy for this, do yourself a favor and stop.

Whatever seed of a rivalry the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers planted last year has been neglected in 2013. It needs water fast before it dries up and dies.

"It's a division opponent," Rams coach Jeff Fisher says. "It's a big challenge for us on a short week, but I don't necessarily see it as a rivalry yet."

Especially not this season.

Last year this meeting between NFC West opponents was a must-see game -- twice. San Francisco proved worthy of a Super Bowl appearance, but the pesky Rams kept tripping the 49ers from behind.

First the Rams fought to a 24-24 tie in San Francisco. Then they earned a 16-13 overtime win in St. Louis. It started to become a thing. Fisher was in Jim Harbaugh's head.

Now it should be easier than ever for Fisher to read his opponent's mind. Both coaches are probably thinking the exact same thing.

"We're facing adversity," Harbaugh said this week. "It gives us the opportunity to stare it in the face and respond."

Hey, that sounds familiar.

"We have a tremendous challenge on our hands here, putting this one behind us as quickly as we can," Fisher said after the Rams got drilled by the Dallas Cowboys 31-7 on Sunday.

Unfortunately, for those beating the rivalry drum, these coaches aren't talking about facing one another. They're talking about winning a football game. Both enter Thursday's game in St. Louis with a 1-2 record. Both got flat-out whooped in their last game.

This isn't a rivalry game. This is a meeting between two teams growing increasingly desperate to pull a young year out of a nose dive.

"Stare it in the face and defeat it," Harbaugh said of his team's early adversity. "That's the ... demonstrate who you are as a team. That's where the opportunity is."

The Rams and 49ers have found it easier said than done so far, and that's a loss for the folks who are watching a potential rivalry hit an early road block.

But there is good news.

Someone has to win in St. Louis on Thursday.

Well, unless it's another tie.

Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at

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