LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 243 yards and ran for a touchdown, and the San Francisco 49ers remained unbeaten with a dominant defensive performance in a 20-7 victory over the struggling Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
George Kittle had eight catches for 103 yards for the Niners (5-0), who held Los Angeles’ once-unstoppable offense to 165 yards in coach Kyle Shanahan’s first victory over Rams coach Sean McVay in a game in which both of these NFC West rivals were playing their starters.
These longtime coaching colleagues’ teams are going in opposite directions after this one-sided showdown at the Coliseum. San Francisco used its possession offense and a sturdy defense to stay alongside New England as the NFL’s only unbeaten teams, while the Rams (3-3) are on their first three-game losing streak of McVay’s 2½-year tenure.
Tevin Coleman rushed for an early touchdown for San Francisco, while Garoppolo was mostly effective despite two turnovers. The Niners didn’t score a touchdown in the final 27 minutes, but they’re off to their fourth 5-0 start in franchise history, and their first since 1990.
With Todd Gurley sitting out to rest his bruised thigh, Los Angeles couldn’t move the ball in its least productive performance of McVay’s tenure. Robert Woods rushed for a touchdown on the opening drive for the Rams, who then managed 48 net yards on their next eight drives combined.
San Francisco won a defense-dominated game by thoroughly throttling the defending NFC champions’ once-impressive passing game. Jared Goff went 13 of 24 for a career-low 78 yards while failing to get comfortable behind a porous offensive line, and the Rams didn’t manage a completion longer than 12 yards while going 0 for 9 on third down.
The Niners’ offense wasn’t significantly better during a first half in which both teams turned the ball over at the opponents’ 1, but San Francisco capitalized on Rams rookie Darrell Henderson’s fumble on the opening snap of the second half for a short go-ahead TD drive capped by Garoppolo’s sneak.
San Francisco then took control, moving the ball deliberately and thoroughly shutting down the Rams. The Niners led 20-7 when Garoppolo’s fumble was returned to the San Francisco 36 with 8:40 to play, but the Rams promptly turned it over on downs.
Everything looked fine for the Rams while McVay called seven consecutive runs on their opening drive. Malcolm Brown, the longtime backup grabbing a starring role with Gurley out, racked up 40 yards on five carries before Woods scored on a beautifully designed end-around.
“To be able to have the seven play drive, seven runs, all manageable down and distances, there was good enthusiasm, good juice, and that’s the way you want to start, but we have to do a better job after that of being able to carry that momentum and those are things that we’ll look to figure out how to do that,” McVay said after the game.
It was the Rams’ first touchdown in a first quarter since last Dec. 30, and it was the first rushing touchdown allowed by the 49ers this season.
It was also the only real highlight of the Rams’ miserable day.
San Francisco answered with Coleman’s TD run capping a 75-yard drive prolonged by a third-down penalty on Los Angeles. The Niners drove to the Rams 1 again, but Garoppolo’s atrocious throw at the goal line was easily intercepted by Marcus Peters.
Los Angeles then reached the Niners 1 on third down, but ran two straight running plays up the middle for no gain.
Henderson, a third-round pick with one career carry before this game, had two impressive runs in the first half — but he dropped a pitchout from Goff on the opening play of the second half, and Arik Armstead recovered at the Rams 17. San Francisco easily scored on the short field.
The Niners again drove to the Los Angeles 2, but Garoppolo overthrew a wide-open Coleman on third down.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)