Rams 42, 49ers 20
ST. LOUIS (AP) _ As usual, the Rams-49ers game was decided by brilliant quarterbacking and a receiver wearing No. 80.
With one big difference _ the Rams prevailed, beating San Francisco 42-20 on Sunday to break a 17-game losing streak against the 49ers and improve to 4-0.
The heroes for the Rams were Kurt Warner, who threw five touchdown passes, and Isaac Bruce, who caught four, fitting for a team that had been repeatedly beaten by Joe Montana and Steve Young throwing to Jerry Rice, a more renowned ``80″ than the oft-injured Ram.
St. Louis also got help from Tony Horne, who put the game away with a 97-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter.
Yes, the Niners were playing with Jeff Garcia instead of Young, who missed his second straight game with a concussion. But that hadn’t stopped San Francisco in the past: Elvis Grbac beat them here for the 49ers and so did Jim Druckenmiller.
Garcia wasn’t to blame, though. The Rams simply got another outstanding performance from Warner, the former Arena League quarterback who had three touchdown passes in each of his first three games this season.
He threw TD passes of 13, 5 and 42 yards to Bruce on St. Louis’ first three possessions as the Rams took a 21-3 lead. Warner was 10-of-10 for 177 yards before Lance Schulters intercepted a pass at midfield.
Late in the first half, he found Jeff Robinson, a former defensive lineman converted to tight end, for a 22-yard score that made it 28-10. Warner added a 43-yarder to Bruce in the fourth quarter, finishing 20-of-23 for 323 yards. Three of Robinson’s four catches in a seven-year career were in this game.
Warner made one of his few mistakes toward the end of the first half, dropping back to pass from his own 9 and fumbling when he was hit by a blitzing Tim McDonald. Junior Bryant fell on the ball in the end zone for a San Francisco touchdown, making it 28-17 at halftime.
The Niners (3-2) cut it to 28-20 on Wade Richey’s 43-yard field goal late in the third quarter. But Horne took the kickoff, darted through a huge hole on the left side and easily outran Richey and Nate McMillian for the score.
The last time the Rams beat the 49ers was Nov. 25, 1990, when they were the Los Angeles Rams and Montana was the quarterback for the 10-0 49ers. Only Young and Rice of the current Niners played in that game and none of the Rams are left.
The game marked the return to St. Louis of Lawrence Phillips, who was the Rams’ first draft choice in 1996 but was cut in 1997. He was roundly booed when he came on the field for the first time and booed again when he scored San Francisco’s first touchdown on a 2-yard run.
Garcia finished 22-of-36 for 233 yards but was intercepted on each of his last three possessions.