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Jeff Fisher's Rams built to beat Jim Harbaugh's 49ers

When Jeff Fisher took over a struggling St. Louis Rams team last winter, Jim Harbaugh's empire-in-the-making already was underway in San Francisco.

One year later, the Rams have played the 49ers as tough as any team west of the New York Giants, taking their NFC West rivals to overtime twice and netting a 1-0-1 record in the process.

It's no coincidence. Fisher is building his young team -- especially on defense -- to compete with and defeat Harbaugh's operation.

"This is a carryover from three weeks ago," Fisher told Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports after Sunday's 16-13 victory. "We joked about taking three weeks off and getting right back after the 49ers -- we didn't know it would take another five quarters. This young team believes we can go in and play with anybody."

Especially San Francisco. The Rams did a superb job of throwing new looks at a 49ers attack that usually dominates in that category. Harbaugh's offense is fun to watch because of the way it disguises intentions with multiple pre-snap formations that equate to an advantage for a young quarterback like Colin Kaepernick.

The Rams appeared vulnerable early but made excellent adjustments on defense. They weren't fooled, and their play against the 49ers this season sparks hope for the future. The Rams should make the NFC West a dogfight for years to come.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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