LOS ANGELES – Struggles on third down and an inability to capitalize on turnovers left the Rams (3-3, 0-2) with a 20-7 loss to the 49ers (5-0, 1-0) Sunday afternoon at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
L.A. was 0-for-9 on third down and 0-for-4 on fourth down, while two takeaways generated by the defense ended with zero points from the offense on each of the ensuing drives. It is the first time ever in the Sean McVay era that the Rams have lost three consecutive games.
CB Marcus Peters recorded his second interception of the season, while rookie RB Darrell Henderson Jr. finished with six carries for 39 yards in his first action since Week 1. Starting in place of the injured Todd Gurley, RB Malcolm Brown added 11 carries for 40 yards.
The Rams made a commitment to establish the run early. QB Jared Goff didn't attempt a single pass on Los Angeles' opening series, as L.A. instead opted for seven consecutive run plays. The drive ended with Robert Woods taking a pitch on a wide receiver reverse eight yards for a touchdown to put the Rams up 7-0 with 9:17 left in the first quarter, giving them their first first-quarter touchdown of the season.
The 49ers responded from a 3-and-out on their first drive with a touchdown-scoring one on their second series, punctuated by a 2-yard touchdown run by RB Tevin Coleman for a 7-7 tie with 3:39 left in the first quarter.
LG Joe Noteboom sustained a knee injury late in first quarter, unable to put pressure on right leg as he was being helped off the field by training staff and requiring a cart to be taken back to the locker room. He was initially ruled questionable to return with a knee injury but later downgraded to out early in the fourth quarter. Jamil Demby replaced him at left guard.
Peters picked off 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo after San Francisco reached the L.A. 2-yard line. Los Angeles went for it on 4th and goal from the 1 but failed to convert on the ensuing drive, as Brown was stopped short of the goal line with 3:14 left in the second quarter.
San Francisco chewed the remaining clock to set up a 55-yard field goal by kicker Robbie Gould, but it was short, leaving a 7-7 tie at halftime.
The Rams went with Henderson at RB to start the second half. His mishandling of a pitch from Goff resulted in the 49ers recovering the ensuing fumble at the Rams 17. San Francisco capitalized with a one-yard touchdown run on a keeper by Garoppolo to extend its lead to 14-7 with 12:50 left in the third quarter.
Another long drive by the Niners nearly ended with another Coleman touchdown, but he dropped the ball while wide open on 3rd and goal from the 2. San Francisco instead settled for a 25-yard field goal by Gould for a 17-7 lead with 4:58 left in the third quarter.
A 3-and-out late in the same period by Los Angeles' offense set up an 11-play, 63-yard drive that took a little over six and a half minutes off the clock and ended with a 34-yard field goal by Gould.
Facing a 20-7 deficit, the Rams chose to go for it on 4th and 1 from their own 44 but failed to convert on the ensuing drive. However, the defense overcame the offense's shortcoming. A sack-fumble by DT Aaron Donald was scooped up by LB Corey Littleton and returned 11 yards. Littleton then lateralled the ball to CB Nickell Robey-Coleman for another 11-yard gain, setting Los Angeles up at the San Francisco 36.
Despite the new momentum created by the defense, the offense was unable to capitalize. Goff's pass intended for Cooper Kupp on 4th and 2 from the San Francisco 28 fell incomplete, with the 49ers taking over on downs.
The Rams' offense would get a similar opportunity after a third-down stop by their defense, but it ended the same as the takeaway-created drive with a turnover on downs at their own 46 with 2:24 left. From there, the 49ers ran out the clock to secure the victory.