As the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. In the case of the 49ers, no team has bred more contempt recently than the Seattle Seahawks. Since Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson got together in 2012, there is no question that they have been the 49ers’ biggest rivals for the past decade.
Now that that era of Seahawks football appears to be ending, and given what happened in the NFC Championship game, have the Rams taken Seattle’s place as the 49ers’ biggest rival?
Leo Luna asked the question during today’s Oh, Hey There! podcast, and it’s worth examining. The Seahawks clearly inspired the biggest reaction from 49ers fans going into this season. The two teams were absolutely loaded back in the Jim Harbaugh era. They both played a physical brand of football, both featured incredible defenses, and both had mobile quarterbacks.
Facing each other at least twice a year didn’t hurt, either. Unfortunately for the 49ers, the Seahawks dominated those contests. Russell Wilson is 16-4 against San Francisco in his career, with another win in the infamous NFC title game in 2013.
As the 49ers’ talent waned following the departure of Harbaugh, the Seahawks kept winning, often embarrassing their NFC West rivals. Going into this season, there were no games most 49ers fans wanted to win more than the games against the Seahawks.
We may have witnessed a changing of the guard this season, however. With the sun seemingly setting on the Russell Wilson/Pete Carroll era, a new contender for the title of biggest 49ers rival began to emerge — the Los Angeles Rams.
There are a lot of reasons the Rams make sense as the Niners’ chief rival. First and foremost, they play in the same state. Second, they’re coached by one of Kyle Shanahan’s former underlings, Sean McVay. Third, they run offenses based on the same principles. Fourth, they play in the same division.
The narrative of the last few seasons also adds fuel to this fire. Both coaches appeared to be held back by mediocre quarterbacks, and that came to a head this offseason when Matthew Stafford became available.
McVay and Shanahan both coveted the former number one overall pick, but before the 49ers could get their pants on, Stafford and McVay were canoodling together in Cabo, and the deal sent him to LA was done. Weeks later, Shanahan would openly admit his frustration on McVay’s podcast.
Despite losing that battle, however, the 49ers appeared to be on the way to winning the war this season. San Francisco dominated the Rams 31-10 in Week 10 and overcame a 17 point deficit in the season's final week to sneak into the playoffs with their sixth straight win over LA. Then, thanks to an incredible throw by Matt Stafford against the Buccaneers, and a special teams performance of the ages in Green Bay, the teams met again in the NFC Championship game. We all know how that turned out.
So, given everything that’s transpired over the last few years, who do you think is the 49ers’ biggest rival? Do Russ and company still hold that title, or have the Rams snatched it away? Vote in our poll and leave a comment below!
Who is the 49ers’ biggest rival?
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