'Ice bag game': 49ers vs. Rams turning into fierce NFC rivalry

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Both the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers have earned bragging rights.

The Rams and 49ers have combined to represent the NFC in three of the past four Super Bowls. Los Angeles sent San Francisco home in the playoffs last year on its way to a Super Bowl title. The 49ers have seven consecutive regular-season wins over the Rams, including Monday night's 24-9 victory.

"We've had some dog fights against these guys," 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said of the Rams. "That's a good football team. Give them credit."

The franchises have met 148 times. The two NFC West rivals are undoubtedly familiar with each other. But what distinguishes the Rams and 49ers from most NFL matchups is the physicality of the games. The most dominant team in the trenches usually walks away victorious.

The 49ers sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford seven times and outgained the Rams on the ground in the team's Week 4 win. San Francisco had more sacks and rushing yards in two regular season meetings last year - both wins.

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Los Angeles matched the 49ers' physicality in the NFC Championship game last year, gained more rushing yards and advanced to the Super Bowl.

"It's always a tight matchup. We run similar schemes on offense and on both sides have great players. It comes down to just a physical battle all the way through," 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said. "It's never really a blowout. It's always a tight game. It just comes down to one or two plays."

The 49ers defense has a unique phrase to describe the battle.

"We knew it was gonna be an ice bag game," 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga said. "I love that word. Every time we play these guys it's a physical matchup."

San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr.  

"Physical" was a word uttered multiple times by several 49ers following the Week 4 win.

The 49ers watched film from the most recent meeting, the NFC Championship game, and it fueled them. Players were determined to send an early-season message.

"You feel the emotions," Garoppolo said. "Just watching the film. It's silent but you can take yourself back to that spot and put yourself back in that emotional state you were in."

Monday's victory improved the 49ers to 2-2 on the season. Every team in the NFC West is 2-2 heading into Week 5. But the NFC West "ice bag game" is turning into one of the most competitive intrastate rivalries in pro sports.

"It's always nice to beat these guys. It's a division game," Garoppolo said. "Every time we play the Rams it's a dog fight."

The two teams square off again in another edition of the "ice bag game" at the end of the month in Week 8.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 49ers-Rams 'Ice bag game' turning into one of fiercest NFL rivalries


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