San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward had gotten the best of the Los Angeles Rams in nearly every way through almost three full games of action last season.
San Francisco swept the two-game regular-season series. Ward intercepted Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford twice in the first meeting at Levi’s Stadium, taking one back to the house in a dominant 31-10 win.
Then the Niners orchestrated a season-saving overtime win in Week 18, outscoring the Rams 24-7 in the second half at SoFi Stadium to secure a playoff spot. This win helped catapult them all the way to the NFC Championship, where the two division rivals met again for a shot at the Super Bowl.
This time, the Niners had the early upper hand. Ward had picked-off Stafford as the Rams were on the verge of scoring inside the three-yard line. The play helped spark San Francisco to a 17-7 lead, an edge the team held into the closing minutes of the third quarter.
But then, LA had its revenge, pulling away in the fourth with a 20-17 win to advance to the Super Bowl.
And in a recent interview with CBS Bay Area, Ward didn’t hold back the disrespect he felt with how the Rams changed their postgame demeanor following the NFC title game.
According to Ward, the Rams showed poor sportsmanship in the previous two loss to the Niners, refusing to shake hands. But with their trip to the Super Bowl secured, their tune suddenly brightened.
“When you mention the Rams, they beat us in the big game,” Ward said. “That was right before the big show. They wanted to shake hands and do all that once they won, but when we beat them twice during the season, they didn’t want to shake hands and walked off. Poor sports, but you know, I get it. I understand.”
Ward didn’t point out anyone in particular who was in the wrong but did go out of his way to heap praises on Rams receiver Cooper Kupp. But these compliments only went so far.
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“I just felt like they went about it the wrong way, but it wasn’t everybody,” Ward said. “Like Cooper Kupp, he’s such a great guy … he’s a great guy, but I still don’t like him when we on the field.”
As expected, Ward doesn’t take kindly to any of the other NFC West rivals. The Rams seem to be at the top of his hate list.
“Them, Arizona, Seattle, whoever it is. My team and myself, we will be ready and we don’t like them. We’re not friends, we’re not cool. When we’re on this field it’s about business. It’s about getting the job done.”
Ward, who will miss at least the first four weeks of the season on injured reserve as he deals with a hamstring injury, will be absent for the Niners’ first matchup against the Rams this season. San Francisco will make the trip to SoFi for a matchup on Monday Night Football in Week 4.
But luckily for him, the Niners play host to LA in Week 8 on Sunday, Oct 30.
“We get to see them twice every year,” he said. “That’s the beauty of the sport.”
You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7
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