The Los Angeles Rams’ defense set the tone Sunday, creating four first-half turnovers and scoring a touchdown on the way to a 48-32 victory Sunday over the visiting San Francisco 49ers that earned L.A. a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The Rams (13-3) clinched the No. 2 seed in the NFC with the victory over their longtime rival and finished undefeated against the NFC West in the process. The opening-round bye is the first for the Rams since the 2003 season when the team was in St. Louis.
Jarred Goff passed for 199 yards and four touchdowns and C.J. Anderson rushed for 132 yards and a score as the Rams were without starting running back Todd Gurley for a second consecutive week as he works his way through knee inflammation.
George Kittle had nine catches for 149 yards, setting the NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single season at 1,377. He set the record on a 43-yard touchdown catch with little more than two minutes remaining. Kittle also set the 49ers record for receptions in a season from a tight end at 88.
Nick Mullens passed for 282 yards and three touchdowns — with three interceptions — as the 49ers (4-12) finished the season with consecutive losses against two of the top three teams in the NFC. They lost to Chicago last weekend.
The Rams’ defense forced turnovers in four of the 49ers’ first five possessions, getting a fumble recovery and three interceptions. Linebacker Cory Littleton had two of those interceptions, returning the second 19 yards for a second-quarter touchdown.
Brandin Cooks caught five passes for 62 yards for the Rams, scoring in each of the first two quarters as Los Angeles took a 31-10 lead into halftime. Cooks grabbed a 3-yard TD pass from Goff three minutes into the game to give the Rams a 7-0 lead and hauled in an 18-yard score in the second quarter for a 28-3 lead.
Anderson, who was signed this month to pick up carries for an ailing Gurley, has 299 yards rushing and two touchdowns in two games with the Rams. Both Anderson and Gurley are expected to share time in the backfield in the playoffs.
Alfred Morris had 16 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown as the 49ers ended the season with a minus-25 turnover margin, the worst in team history.
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald had one sack, finishing the season with 20.5, two short of Michael Strahan’s NFL record set in 2001 (sacks were kept as an official stat starting in 1982).
—Field Level Media