Defensive rivalry brewing between left and right sides

Defensive rivalry brewing between left and right sides
August 8, 2012, 9:16 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- Remember that scene from "Remember the Titans" where Bertier and Big Ju shove each other debating whether it's called the "left side" or the "strong side?"

Ahmad Brooks and Ray McDonald do, and they've adopted it as the mainstay of their competitive defensive vernacular. Brooks and McDonald comprise the 49ers' defensive left side, and they are engaging right-siders Justin and Aldon Smith.

Is there a left side-right side rivalry going on in Santa Clara?

"Not necessarily," Brooks said. "But then again...yeah."

"We're really just competing as sides," Aldon Smith confirmed. "We try to see if me and Justin can make more plays than Ahmad and Ray can make."

It started last year with McDonald and Brooks' impromptu re-enactment of Bertier and Big Ju, and the two have run with it, using it to egg on their right side-counterparts.

How the right side responds, however, is up for debate.

"We just let the play do the talking," Aldon said.

"They just talk crap," Brooks said.

We'll check in throughout the season to see which side has the upper hand, but the underlying theme of making plays has clearly been internalized by the 49ers' front seven.

"It's not a rivalry, it's like a friendly competition," Aldon said. "We want to see who can get more than the other. And just get 'em period."

Head coach Jim Harbaugh -- always a proponent of competition -- surely supports the exercise of relaxed intensity, especially considering the outcome.

"It's cool," Aldon said. "You get better having fun."