Rams Again Inspire 49ers to Greatness : Pro football: Kinchen’s punching routine awakens Young and San Francisco offense, 41-13.


Thanks for the memories: Chris Miller throwing wildly, Chris Miller’s passes being intercepted and returned for touchdowns, Chris Miller getting hurt and leaving the game.

The SOR (same old Rams) were back in California for their first regular-season visit, and despite the move to St. Louis, they remain the San Francisco 49ers’ punching bag. Change the zip code. Make Georgia Frontiere richer. Give them luxury boxes in a new domed stadium. And when it comes time for the 49ers to play the SOR, it’s instant replay.

The 49ers (8-4) defeated the Rams (6-6) Sunday in Candlestick Park, 41-13, before 66,049, giving San Francisco two victories over St. Louis this season by a combined score of 85-23, and 11 consecutive victories dating to 1990. The merciful 49ers, poised to score on the St. Louis one-yard line with two minutes to play, chose to kneel instead and run out the clock.


“We had been playing hard, but it was not passionate or focused,” 49er Coach George Seifert said. “We can be a very good team when we play to our capabilities.”

Thanks for the memories: Todd Kinchen making a big play, Todd Kinchen getting all emotional, Todd Kinchen making the stupid play.

“I was fired up after scoring and it was important for me to fire up the team,” said Kinchen, who gave the Rams a 7-0 lead with a first-quarter two-yard reception. “I did not intend to fire up the 49ers.”

After scoring, Kinchen began punching and then kicking the padding on the goal post, an obvious retaliation for 49er linebacker Ken Norton’s boxing routine after his two interception returns for scores in the earlier meeting in St. Louis.

“We’re talking about a middleweight trying to imitate a heavyweight champion,” 49er linebacker Gary Plummer said.

Norton nodded in agreement. “It kind of surprised me,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘Don’t mess with the world champions like that. Don’t tick us off.’ We’re an emotional team.”

Before the first game in St. Louis, Ram safety Toby Wright had remarked that the 49ers “must be sweating bullets.” Wright later apologized to his team after the 49ers had used his comments to thrash them.

“It’s a situation where I think you should learn from experience,” Plummer said. “The last time we played they were popping off and we came out and kicked their butt. Kinchen punching the bag just reminded us, hey, these are the same guys.”

The Rams had a 7-0 lead and the 49ers had a rusty Steve Young at quarterback. It was the setting for an ambush, but then Kinchen made like Peter McNeely and it all backfired on the Rams.

Young, who was making his first start after sitting out five games because of a shoulder injury, had his first pass intercepted. The 49ers continued to go nowhere on their next three possessions, but after Kinchen’s touchdown they scored the next three times they got the ball.

Young threw 16-yard to rookie wide receiver J.J. Stokes to tie the game, then came back with an 18-yard scoring pass to Stokes for the lead. They were the first two NFL touchdowns for the rookie from UCLA.

Safety Tim McDonald’s interception of a Miller pass and return to the St. Louis two-yard line set up Derek Loville’s two-yard touchdown run two plays later.

The 49ers had a 28-7 halftime lead, and Miller had a scratched eye. The quarterback, who could not stay healthy long enough to help the team a year ago, suffered the injury on the final play of the first half and never returned.

Before he left, however, he proved he has an eye for the 49ers. In two games against San Francisco this season, he threw one touchdown pass for the Rams, while throwing three more to the 49ers. San Francisco cornerback Eric Davis took a Miller pass and returned it 86 yards for the 49ers’ sixth defensive score this season, tying the 1983 club record.

On the way to scoring, Davis ran through Kinchen’s tackling attempt at the 25-yard line. After making it to the end zone, Davis then made like Kinchen and began pounding the goal post.

“Kinchen came at me at an angle,” Davis said. “I gave him the old backyard turkey bowl move--the dead leg, you know--and he went for it.”