Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Are the Rams a division contender in 2013?
This Thursday Night Football game could make or break their season.
Last year, St. Louis got off to a slow start, and despite beating the 49ers as part of a 4-2 finish, it missed the playoffs. It can ill afford another poor early-season showing.
The Niners will want to send a message that the Rams are at least a year away from legitimately challenging for the NFC West crown, and Colin Kaepernick will look to solve the St. Louis defense, which stifled him at Edward Jones Stadium in 2012.
Also, if Seattle and San Francisco finish tied for the division lead and split against each other, the first tiebreaker is division record. The 49ers need to take care of business against their other division foes to avoid losing ground to the Seahawks.