SANTA CLARA, Calif. — With three takeaways, the Rams have largely controlled the first half of their Week 7 contest against the 49ers and have a 22-7 lead at the break. Here are a few notes from the game's first 30 minutes.
TAKE IT AWAY
A pair of young outside linebackers combined to pick up a big takeaway that led to Los Angeles' first points of the day.
On 2nd-and-16 from the San Francisco 35, second-year OLB Samson Ebukam came off the edge and recorded a sack/fumble on quarterback C.J. Beathard. The ball popped into the air, and rookie Trevon Young was there to catch the airborne fumble for a Rams takeaway.
The 49ers came in with the league's worst turnover differential at -11, and have multiple giveaways in their last three games.
The fumble led to a 35-yard field goal by kicker Greg Zuerlein — his first attempt since returning from his groin injury.
THE LITTLETON SET OF DOWNS
Though the Niners were able to move the ball into Rams territory on their second possession, defensive signal-caller Cory Littleton came through on a pair of significant plays to keep the home team off the board.
On 1st-and-10 from the L.A. 26, Littleton read a screen to running back Raheem Mostert perfectly on the defense's left, and made the tackle for a one-yard loss.
Then on 3rd-and-11, Littleton blitzed from the left and corralled Beathard for an 11-yard loss on a sack, taking the 49ers out of field goal range. That was Littleton's first sack of the season and the second sack of his career.
DONALD DOING DONALD THINGS, GURLEY DOES GURLEY THINGS
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is regarded as one of the best defensive players in football for a reason, and showed exactly why late in the first quarter.
On the first play of San Francisco's third possession, Donald ripped the ball away from running back Matt Breida as he was being tackled. The ball never hit the ground, as Donald kept the forced fumble in his possession for Los Angeles' second takeaway of the first quarter.
It didn't take L.A. too long to fully capitalize on the turnover, using four plays to go 21 yards into the end zone. The offense converted a 3rd-and-3 play with a seven-yard jet sweep from wideout Brandin Cooks.
Then running back Todd Gurley did the rest, taking in a seven-yard handoff 1st-and-goal over the left side for his league-leading 12th touchdown of the 2018 season. With the TD, Gurley has scored a touchdown in his last 10 regular-season games.
Stop me if you've heard this one before — Littleton blocked a punt.
For the third time in the first seven games of 2018, Littleton made his way through an opposing team's punt protection unit to get his hands on the ball and block a kick. This time, it came early in the second quarter on 4th-and-19 from the Niners 16. Though many Rams dressed in yellow gave chase, they weren't able to possess the ball before it went out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
THIRD TAKEAWAY, MAKE THEM PAY
Cornerback Troy Hill recorded the first interception of his career midway through the second quarter, giving Los Angeles its third extra possession in the first half.
On 1st-and-10 from the San Francisco 49, Hill stepped in front of a pass over the middle of the field intended for wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and picked it off, returning the takeaway seven yards to the L.A. 40.
With the help of solid run yards from Malcolm Brown, L.A. got in position to further extend its lead. Quarterback Jared Goff hit Cooks with a 19-yard pass in the front-left corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
With the extra point, the Rams led 22-0.