49ers improve to 5-0 with dominant showing vs. rival Rams

The San Francisco 49ers are no joke.

Leaning on a ball-control offense and a smothering defense, the 49ers dominated the Los Angeles Rams, 20-7 on Sunday to improve to 5-0 and declare their intentions to win the NFC West.

The Rams looked good on a 56-yard drive to secure the game’s first score with a touchdown on their first possession. From that point on, the 49ers implemented their will on the game.

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49ers stifle once-vaunted Rams offense

San Francisco scored 20 unanswered points, regularly stifling the once-vaunted offense of Sean McVay and Jared Goff on defense. When they got the ball, they held onto it, wearing down the Rams defense with repeated drawn-out drives.

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Aaron Donald gave the Rams a late chance to make it a game with a fourth-quarter strip sack of Jimmy Garoppolo that set Los Angeles up with a first down at the 49ers 36-yard line.

But once again, the Rams came up short, failing to gain a first down or score on a stilted drive that epitomized the flow of the game. The Rams found themselves in third-and-two after a short Goff pass to Brandin Cooks. But Goff failed to convert pass attempts on third and fourth down to turn possession back over to San Francisco.

The 49ers put on a clinic on both sides of the ball to beat the Rams and remain unbeaten. (Reuters)
The 49ers put on a clinic on both sides of the ball to beat the Rams and remain unbeaten. (Reuters)

Rams shut out on 3rd and 4th down

It was the third fourth-down attempt on the day by the Rams. It was the third time they came up short and turned the ball over on downs. They fell to 0-for-4 on fourth down when a late desperation pass from Goff on fourth-and-six fell incomplete. The Rams were also shut out on third down on the day, failing to convert on nine attempts.

It was a second-straight dominant, high-profile showing for San Francisco, which beat the Cleveland Browns last Monday, 31-3. For Los Angeles, it was a third straight loss after a 3-0 start for the defending NFC champions that opens up more questions about an offense that looks nothing like the unit that regularly lit up scoreboards last season.

Dreadful day for Goff

The third- and fourth-down numbers weren’t the only ugly spots in the box score for the Rams. Goff finished his day completing 13-of-24 passes for 78 yards. He took four sacks. He didn’t find the end zone.

The 49ers dominated time of possession, holding on to the ball for 38:52, compared to 21:08 for the Rams, who couldn’t find any sort of consistency on offense while playing without running back Todd Gurley, who missed the game with a thigh contusion.

49ers offense plays its role perfectly

The 49ers weren’t prolific with the ball, but they didn’t have to be. They converted on 8-of-17 third down attempts and their only fourth down attempt of the day and put together five drives of nine plays or more.

Garoppolo completed 24-of-33 pass attempts for 243 yards. His only touchdown arrived via sneak at the goal line. Tevin Coleman scored the only other San Francisco touchdown as the 49ers managed just 2.4 yards per carry en route to 99 yards on the ground.

But the effort was enough. And it perfectly balanced a gameplan that saw defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s unit shine as one of the best in football.

For those who’ve been sleeping on the 49ers and third-year coach Kyle Shanahan, it’s time to wake up.

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