49ers 20, Rams 7: Defensive heroics lead way to 5-0 record

Cam Inman, The Mercury News on

Published in Football

LOS ANGELES -- Of the 49ers' five wins in five games to open this renaissance season, Sunday's 20-7 victory best captured their defense's downright dominance, as Jared Goff and the host Los Angeles Rams inexplicably learned.

Making this victory even bigger: it was the 49ers' first win against a NFC West foe, and it came against their in-state rival, the two-time defending division champions, who've lost three in a row and fallen to 3-3.

The 49ers defense delivered a trio of fourth-down stops, including a goal-line stand, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh led the chorus of cheers among a bipartisan crowd inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The 49ers (5-0) again won in imperfect fashion. Jimmy Garoppolo committed two turnovers (first-half interception in the end zone; fourth-quarter fumble), but that was of little consequence when his counterpart, Jared Goff, wilted under the 49ers' pass rush. Goff was 13-of-24 for 78 yards, or 50 net yards when factoring in yards lost from his four sacks.

Coach Kyle Shanahan's team won without four injured starters -- offensive tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon -- and it won with injured tight end George Kittle overcoming a groin injury to again thrive at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

With their offense controlling the ball and converting third downs, and with their defense ruling from every direction, the 49ers own a five-game win streak for the first time since Garoppolo debuted as their starter in December 2017.


Here are Sunday's studs and duds that kept the 49ers rolling into next Sunday's game at Washington (1-5):


Goal-line stand: The 49ers' best (only?) goal-line stand this year was sealed once they stopped Malcolm Brown for no gain on back-to-back carries from the 1. DeForest Buckner and Sheldon Day helped clog the lanes while D.J. Jones and Kwon Alexander got credited for those stops. Richard Sherman made a touchdown-saving stop at the 1 on second down. The bipartisan crowd cheered, and leading that chorus was defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

George Kittle: He's overcome a Friday groin injury to have a phenomenal first half: 7 receptions, 7 targets, 94 yards. Highlighting that was a 45-yard catch-and-run ended at the Rams' 6-yard line with four defenders on him. He had a third-down conversion on their only scoring drive, and his edge block helped spring Coleman's TD run.


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