THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Rams' opportunity to respond to their second loss of the season comes in primetime with a rivalry game against the 49ers on Monday Night Football.
"I think you look at it, they've been a great example (of) a team that we've kind of had those kind of games against," Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said postgame last Sunday. "I mean, if you look at it last year, really kind of had some meltdown situations in their games against them, and really not jumping on opportunities that we had in those games. And then the year before really, I think in the second half, multiple times turning the ball over, either right before the half right or out of the half against them, that's been for touchdowns or run back to touchdowns. That's kind of the game we played against them. Funny how the league works, you play a game like this, and then you're going to against a team that that's kind of been what you've done, and so we got a chance to respond to the last couple years and show the winning kind of program that we are."
As Whitworth alluded to, the last three games between the Rams and 49ers have been close calls.
In Week 12 last year, kicker Robbie Gould's field goal as time expired dealt the Rams their first home loss at SoFi Stadium. Six weeks earlier, the Rams second-half rally fell short in another one-possession game, a 24-16 Niners win. In Week 16 of 2019, Gould's field goal as time expired lifted the 49ers to a win.
"We know the energy between the two teams. We know it's gonna be physical, we know there's gonna be talking," Williams said. "The game, I think it's gonna be physical. It depends on, I'm not gonna say the refs, but just letting us play ball, because that's the type of game it's gonna be. And we just know how important it is, because we don't look at records. We don't look at any of that stuff. We know our division is arguably the best division. We know at any time in the season, teams can just come back and just start rallying and win. So we just look at them as the same opponent that we've been looking at them as, and we're just coming out to try to dominate."
One of the biggest challenges for the Rams will come up front, going against a 49ers defensive lineman coached by Kris Kocurek, who held the same position with the Lions from 2010-17 – the second through ninth of Stafford's 12 seasons in Detroit.
"I was with their Defensive Line Coach (Kris Kocurek) in Detroit for a long time," Stafford said Wednesday. "I know what he's all about. And those guys play like I remember the guys in Detroit playing. They played hard for him. So it's a big challenge for us."
Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said Rams-49ers games are always "a dog fight."
"It's always back and forth sometimes," Donald said. "It was a couple of years where, a couple of games where we just didn't start off good if things didn't go our way. But anytime you play a divisional opponent, it's going to be that type of game – a back and forth game, a physical game and that's how we want it."