Fight has gone out of rivalry;RAIDERS 2-3 AT 49ERS 0-5

Mike Singletary would like to say he hates the Raiders and gets

all worked up for the Bay Area rivalry, but at 0-5, he’s got his

own problems.

“Just win,” the

49ers coach said about today’s 12th

running of the Battle of the Bay, with the teams meeting this time

at Candlestick Park.

Welcome to the rivalry that no longer is. Howie Long no longer

chases

49ers offensive-line coaches after

the game. Jeff Garcia doesn’t give the bird to the Black Hole. No

one has to worry about Charles Haley thrashing the postgame locker

room in disgust.

Maybe the cross-bay fire has been dashed by a combined record of

2-8 this season. Perhaps bragging rights aren’t much to brag about

when the

49ers and Raiders have combined for

14 non-winning seasons over the past seven years.

The Raiders are 31-86 since 2002, only marginally worse than the

49ers’ 40-77 mark. If one beats the

other today, is the accomplishment really what it used to be when

both franchises were piling up Lombardi Trophies

49ers 5, Raiders 3?

“I don’t think it’s the same,”

49ers running backs coach Tom

Rathman said. He’s been on both sides of the rivalry, as both a

player and a coach, and he can remember when the

49ers hated the Raiders and the

feeling was mutual.

“Organization-wise, and with the fans, it still is. But when you

talk about the players coming in new every year, a lot of them

weren’t here when the success was here. They just don’t know what

it is right now.”

Oh sure, some Niners players are still trying to get into the

angry spirit of the week. Week 7 at Carolina, this isn’t.

Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., who played at Ohio State, compared

49ers-Raiders to Ohio

State-Michigan, though he’s been with the

49ers since April and has only

experienced the exhibition-season version of the series.

Quarterback Alex Smith said, “There’s definitely a rivalry

feel.” Wide receiver Josh Morgan said he could picture a reporter

in a Raider uniform at that very moment. But, perhaps left tackle

Barry Sims captured it best when he said the Battle of the Bay is

more about the fan base. Some of his closest friends still play for

the Raiders, so how can he hate them Sunday?

“It’s a rivalry, but it’s more for the fans than it is for us,”

said Sims, who played for Oakland in the past three games in this

series. “We’re not looking at it from the fan’s point of view, ‘Oh,

it’s the Battle of the Bay.’ They’re a good opponent that just

happens to be right next to us.”

Sims knows how the fans’ blood boils over this game. He signed

with the

49ers three seasons ago. He

remembers being called a traitor and “other stuff” the first time

he returned to the Coliseum in red and gold.

Never mind that the

49ers and Raiders play once every

four years on average. At least on the Oakland side, this rivalry

trumps twice-a-year division rivals like San Diego, Denver and San

Diego.

“I remember when they would flash scores on the board,” Sims

said of his Raiders days. “They would go through the AFC West

scores, and then the

49ers’ score would go up, and that

would get the loudest out of the fans.”

So, sit back and enjoy. If fans are lucky, maybe the

49ers and Raiders will brawl

between plays, just for old time’s sake.