SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Aaron Donald and a dominant defense kept taking the ball away for Los Angeles and Todd Gurley turned those turnovers into touchdowns to keep the Rams unbeaten after seven games.
Todd Gurley scored three touchdowns and Jared Goff threw two TD passes as the Rams took advantage of four takeaways and a blocked punt to beat the San Francisco 49ers 39-10 on Sunday for their first 7-0 start since 1985.
“With the offense we have to just keep feeding and feeding them ball,” Donald said. “If we do that, they are going to put points on the board. Our offense is so explosive. We know that if we give them the ball good things are going to happen.”
Donald and the defense made things easy for the Rams high-powered offense with seven sacks, two interceptions against C.J. Beathard and two fumble recoveries, including one that Donald just ripped out of Matt Breida’s hands.
That was perhaps Donald’s best play on a day full of great ones as he had four sacks, six tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, the forced fumble and fumble recovery.
“One of the best defensive performances I’ve been around,” Goff said. “It seemed like every time we sat down we got back up and went on the field. … It was just a lot of fun to watch.”
The Rams started 6-0 for three straight seasons from 1999-2001 only to lose game seven. The 49ers (1-6) made sure that wouldn’t happen this year by repeatedly giving the ball away, justifying the decision the NFL made to flex this game out of prime time following the season-ending knee injury to San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
“It’s always embarrassing when you lose like that,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We’ve got pride and we’re also confident in what we do. We’re not proud of our record right now. We’re definitely not proud of today. When we played better, we still feel the same way. We’re not into any moral victories here. We’re as far away from one as we could have today. We have to fix the turnovers. Once we fix the turnovers, then we have a chance to start playing football.”
Beathard has thrown seven interceptions and lost three fumbles in four starts as the 49ers have committed 14 straight turnovers since their last takeaway on Sept. 30 against the Chargers.
The Rams dominated defensively even beyond Donald’s performance. Cory Littleton having two sacks and a blocked punt for a safety ; and Troy Hill and John Johnson III also intercepted passes.
The turnovers set up 24 points for the Rams, who put up the big scoring day despite gaining a season-low 331 yards of offense.
Gurley scored on a 7-yard run in the second quarter after a fumble by Breida and 1-yard run after Johnson’s interception in the third. He capped his fifth three-touchdown game of the past two seasons with a 12-yard catch after JoJo Natson had a 36-yard punt return to the 13.
Gurley’s 14 TDs this season tie Priest Holmes (2002, ‘04) for the most through seven games in the Super Bowl era.
GIVE IT AWAY
The Niners had a minus-1 turnover margin through the first 14 quarters of the season and are minus-14 over the last 14 quarters, matching a franchise worst with a minus-15 turnover margin through seven games set by the 1980 team. During one particularly rough stretch in the first half, the 49ers had a five-play sequence of lost fumble, fumbled snap, incomplete pass, sack and blocked punt.
“You can always work on protecting it better,” Beathard said. “I think it comes down to a mindset and just not letting it happen.”
Rams DB Troy Hill left in the first half to be evaluated for a possible concussion but was able to return. … The 49ers lost S Adrian Colbert (sprained right ankle), LB Reuben Foster (sprained shoulder) and Breida (ankle) during the game.
The 49ers unveiled statues of Joe Montana and Dwight Clark before the game commemorating “The Catch” that launched a dynasty in the 1980s. The statues are 23 yards apart - the same distance that was between Montana and Clark on the game-winning play during the NFC title game win over Dallas on Jan. 10, 1982.
Rams: Host Green Bay on Sunday.
49ers: Visit Arizona on Sunday.
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