The San Francisco 49ers celebrated their alumni weekend Sunday, luminaries such as hall of famers Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens among the stars at Levi’s Stadium.
The team unveiled a stadium statue commemorating the “The Catch,” the famous pass from Montana to the late Dwight Clark in the 1982 NFC championship game.
But on a day steeped in 49ers lore, the Rams demonstrated it is a new era in the NFC West.
Todd Gurley scored three touchdowns, Jared Goff passed for two and Greg Zuerlein kicked three field goals as the Rams improved to 7-0 and remained on track for a second straight division title with a 39-10 victory.
The Rams intercepted two passes, recovered two fumbles and middle linebacker Cory Littleton blocked a punt that resulted in a safety. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald forced and recovered a fumble and recorded four sacks, looking every bit the reigning NFL defensive player of the year.
“Being 7-0 feels good,” Donald said, “but we got to stay hungry.”
Sunday’s victory was the last of three consecutive road games for a Rams team that earned close victories at Seattle and Denver before defeating the 49ers with relative ease.
“Ready to get back home and stop traveling around,” Goff said.
The Rams now must prepare for the Green Bay Packers and future hall of fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who will come to the Coliseum rested after their off week.
“We know what kind of guy they have leading the way,” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
The Rams should be fine if their defense can come close to matching Sunday’s performance.
At the season’s start, Sunday’s game was regarded as the first barometer between teams with young coaches and ascending quarterbacks. But Jimmy Garoppolo’s season-ending knee injury in Week 3 scuttled that, so it’s wait till next year for the 49ers, now 1-6.
Meanwhile, the Rams are a Super Bowl favorite.
Gurley, coming off a career-high 208-yard rushing performance at Denver, rushed for 63 yards and two touchdowns in 15 carries. He caught four passes for 23 yards and a touchdown. Goff passed for 202 yards and also connected with receiver Brandin Cooks for a touchdown.
Cornerback Troy Hill and safety John Johnson intercepted passes, and the Rams sacked 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard seven times.
“We didn’t have to cover for long, I’ll tell you that,” Johnson said. “I started back-pedaling and he was sacked.”
Said Hill: “When I see that quarterback going down, I don’t know exactly who it is, but I know it’s making my job a lot easier.”
Linebacker Samson Ebukam started the barrage of turnovers on the 49ers’ first possession when he chased down Beathard from behind and punched the ball out of his hand. Rookie linebacker Trevon Young caught the ball in the air to set up a field goal.
“It seems like we did good,” Ebukam said, “but there was just like a whole bunch of little things we were just missing.”
“It was one of our top performances,” said Littleton, who had 10 tackles, including two sacks. “I can’t say that it’s our best. It would have been better if they had zero points.”
The Rams recorded a Week 2 shutout against Arizona but struggled to duplicate that dominance in games against the Chargers, Minnesota, Seattle and Denver.
They came close Sunday.
“I don’t think we played our best football yet,” Johnson said.
A good time to do that would be Sunday, when Donald will be leading the rush against Rodgers.