The San Francisco 49ers cruised to a 35-10 victory over the Rams on Sunday with Steve Young throwing for four touchdowns and 462 yards--the second-highest total compiled by a quarterback against a Ram defense.
The overpowering performance at Anaheim Stadium, which was the 49ers’ seventh consecutive victory over the Rams (3-8), might have also produced the first known case of football fatigue.
After wide receiver Jerry Rice caught eight passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns, Ram cornerback Wymon Henderson said this was the kind of performance a team can build on.
“I think the young guys should come out of this with the understanding that we are capable of making big plays,” Henderson said.
The 49ers (8-3), however, were the ones who made the big plays Sunday with running back Ricky Watters catching a 48-yard touchdown pass, wide receiver John Taylor grabbing a 76-yard scoring pass and Rice beating Henderson for 39 yards and a touchdown.
“I don’t know what game you were watching,” Henderson said when quizzed about his unusual read on Sunday’s game. “I mean, we made some plays out there, too.”
The record book, however, will focus on the 49ers’ accomplishments. The 49ers’ 475 net passing yards are the second-highest recorded against the Rams. The Cincinnati Bengals had 483 passing yards against the Rams in a 34-31 overtime victory in 1990. Boomer Esiason threw for 490.
Rice, who also caught a seven-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, has moved to within four touchdowns of matching Jim Brown’s NFL career record of 126.
“As I mentioned earlier in the week, I thought the 49ers were playing the best football in the league,” Ram Coach Chuck Knox said. “Nothing I saw today will make me change my mind.”
The 49ers’ only measurable failure was their inability to score at least 40 points for a fourth consecutive game, which would have matched the Los Angeles Chargers’ feat in 1960.
“They didn’t get it; I guess that’s something to be happy about, huh?” linebacker Shane Conlan said. "(Who cares) when you lose by that margin?”
The 49ers had outgained the Rams, 303-98, by halftime and had scored on three of their first four possessions. They went on to roll up 539 yards. In two games against the Rams this season, they outscored them, 75-27.
“They looked like a team that doesn’t think they can be beaten,” tackle Irv Eatman said. “When you get going like that, you’re hard to beat. I really thought we could give them a game, but we just couldn’t.”
Watters gave the 49ers a 7-0 lead with a six-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and after the Rams responded with Tony Zendejas’ 25-yard field goal, Young hooked up with Rice for a 39-yard touchdown.
Young had thrown 183 passes without an interception, but Watters was unable to hold onto a pass in the second quarter and Ram linebacker Henry Rolling was there for the interception at the 49ers’ 47-yard line.
The Rams were ineffective on offense, however, and the 49ers came back to score again. After pausing for the two-minute warning with a first and 10 at the Ram 48, Young found Watters over the middle, and the running back evaded safety Anthony Newman’s desperate tackle to go the distance for a 21-3 halftime lead.
“We had so many of our people out of there and so many new people in there,” Knox said. “But that’s the game.”
The Rams were without seven starters, including cornerbacks Todd Lyght (knee injury) and Darryl Henley (legal problems) and nickel back Robert Bailey (knee injury).
While Henderson, who was subbing for Lyght, put a positive spin on the Rams’ latest loss, teammate Sean Gilbert was upset. Gilbert declined to be interviewed initially.
“Let me tell you this,” Gilbert said in mocking fashion. “They just have so many weapons and there’s so many ways they can attack you and they’re just so good.”
That’s what Gilbert was hearing from those around him and that’s what he figured everybody expected him to say. But that’s not what he was feeling.
“I’m (angry),” Gilbert said. “Who wants to lose? Sure, they’re a great football team, but I’m saying I’m the guy who can beat them. That’s how I approached this game. We were without a number of players because of injury, but we’re paid to play.”
The 49ers took advantage of the Rams’ problems in the secondary to pad their statistics. Taylor caught a 76-yard scoring pass in the third quarter. He took a short pass from Young, evaded a tackle by linebacker Roman Phifer and Henderson, and avoided safety Michael Stewart’s effort to push him out of bounds.
“They have so many weapons that you close one door and they open another,” defensive end Fred Stokes said. “You stop Jerry Rice, and then the other guy on the other side kills you.”
The Rams didn’t score in the third quarter, but running back Jerome Bettis provided entertainment with his outside running ability.
“They were giving it to us,” said Bettis, who ran for a career-high 133 yards, “so we took it.”
Young’s assault on the Ram secondary, meanwhile, continued. On third and goal from the seven-yard line, Young zipped a pass over the middle to Rice for the 49ers’ final score. On San Francisco’s next possession, Steve Bono replaced Young, who had completed 26 of 32 passes.
“I probably could not have played any better,” Young said. “But next week I’ll try to improve.”
The Rams scored their only touchdown after a 41-yard run by Bettis put them on the 49ers’ 27-yard line. Rubley found a wide-open Henry Ellard in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown.
“They are a machine and they don’t make mistakes,” said Rubley, who completed 13 of 28 passes for 167 yards with an interception. “And when they get going like that, you have to make every possession count against them.
“I felt more comfortable today and execution is something I’m going to learn. If I profit from my mistakes, then I’m going to continue to grow.”
San Francisco quarterback Steve Young’s 462 yards passing Sunday ranks second all-time against the Rams . The best passing yardage games against them:
Player (Team) Yards Date Boomer Esiason (Cincinnati) 490 Oct. 7, 1990 Steve Young (San Francisco) 462 Nov. 28, 1993 Richard Todd (N.Y. Jets) 446 Sept. 25, 1983 Tony Eason (New England) 375 Nov. 16, 1986 Phil Simms (N.Y. Giants) 375 Sept. 25, 1987
Source: Ram media guide.
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