Rams report: Greg Zuerlein makes strong return in 39-10 rout of 49ers
After a five-week absence because of a groin injury, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein returned Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers and contributed three field goals in a 39-10 victory at Levi’s Stadium.
“It was a lot of fun,” Zuerlein said, “especially winning.”
Zuerlein converted attempts from 35, 37 and 33 yards, providing the Rams with the near-automatic points they grew accustomed to receiving last season when Zuerlein led the NFL in scoring.
“It was good to get back out there,” he said. “Hit some balls. Feel good about it.”
Zuerlein kicked four field goals — including one from 55 yards — in the season opener against the Oakland Raiders. But he had been sidelined since Week 2, when he suffered a groin injury during warmups against the Arizona Cardinals at the Coliseum.
Punter Johnny Hekker filled in that game, and the Rams subsequently signed and then released Sam Ficken and Cairo Santos in the following four weeks.
“Anytime, as a competitor, you want to be in the game, playing,” Zuerlein said. “So when you’re not out there, there’s something that doesn’t sit right within.
On Sunday, Zuerlein made every field goal and extra point. Seven of eight kickoffs were touchbacks, but he said there was still work to be done.
“Some of those kickoffs, I could have had better location, better hang time, better distance,” he said, adding, “I know there’s more to be had there, and with the field goals as well.
“A couple of them were a little left of center. You’re always happy when they go in, but you can always do better.”
It was an otherwise solid performance.
“The biggest thing is I got out of there healthy,” he said.
Cornerback Troy Hill shook off last week’s struggles against the Denver Broncos and intercepted a pass against the 49ers.
“That’s a big weight off my shoulders,” he said.
Hill’s interception occurred about midway through the second quarter, when he jumped in front of a receiver and picked off C.J. Beathard’s pass.
Hill fell to the turf, untouched, and linebacker Cory Littleton implored him to get up and start running.
“Cory was like, ‘Get up! Get up!’ ” Hill said. “I thought he was trying to take the ball, so I was just wrestling him for the ball.”
JoJo Natson set up a field goal and a touchdown with impressive kick returns.
He averaged 18 yards on two punt returns, and gained 23 yards after fielding a free kick after safety.
“I was just running to green grass, man,” Natson said. “Wherever I saw there was space, I just tried to get there.
“And my return unit did a good job blocking for me.
“Should have scored. But it’s coming, though. It’s definitely coming.”
With receiver Cooper Kupp sidelined because of a knee sprain, the Rams last week signed receiver Nick Williams to provide depth.
Williams made an immediate contribution, catching two passes for 17 yards, including one for a first down that helped set up a second-quarter touchdown.
The Rams signed Williams because he was familiar with coach Sean McVay’s system.
“It’s impressive, him stepping in,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “By Thursday, he knew most of the stuff he was supposed to do.
“I’d try to help him out and he’d be like, ‘Oh, I’ve got it.’
“He’s been in this offense before and he has a good feel for it.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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