The Rams (6-0) have beaten the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos the past two weeks despite not playing what they believe is their best football.
“I think that’s signs of a good team,” Rams quarterback Jared Goff said. “We’ve been able to do that up to this point. There’s a lot of season left for us to still prove that and still do that.
“But up to this point … finding ways to win. It seems like every week it’s a different way, which is awesome. It’s good when different guys step up and have to show. It’s all been really good so far. A lot of work to do and another one this week that’ll be tough.”
The 49ers (1-5) were beaten by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on Monday night with a fourth-quarter rally that resulted in San Francisco’s 33-30 loss.
Though the 49ers are struggling, the Rams are being careful to make sure to stay focused because, for one thing, it’s a game against an NFC West opponent.
“I think just the history of like L.A., Bay Area — all sports rivalry is kind of a theme. (San Francisco) Giants, (Los Angeles) Dodgers tends to be pretty heated,” Goff said. “Now that we’ve moved to L.A., the San Francisco rivalry is pretty obvious and it’s a fun one.
“It’s a lot of fun to go up there personally, to play up there in front of a lot of people I know. A lot of people that I grew up with that are still Niners fans is the best part to kind of get a chance to play against them and have them kind of maybe root against me. It’s fun.”
The Rams realize there’s a target on their backs as the NFL’s only remaining unbeaten team.
“We talk about it all the time — anybody that’s the best at what they do, there’s a consistency to their production and you’ve got to do it week in and week out,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “If there’s anything that you can appreciate about this league, you never know what’s going to occur. Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, this team is going to beat this team,’ and then, it never really seems to work out that way.
“So the respect and appreciation that our players, our coaches have for every single team in this league — all the players, the coaches — we’ve got to get better every single day because those guys are doing the same thing.”
The Rams’ complete offense features not only Goff throwing the ball but running back Todd Gurley II running it. His 5,469 scrimmage yards leave him 547 behind Jack Snow for the most in franchise history. He will start his 50th career game on Sunday, becoming only the seventh Rams running back to do so.
“We’re going to obviously, keep trying to win,” Goff said. “Hopefully, every week that’s going to be the goal. If that comes with added pressure, so be it. I think each week you treat it as one week at a time. Truly, I haven’t felt like we’re trying to be 7-0 this week. We’re really trying to win and the previous week, the same thing. We really haven’t felt that way ever.”
Goff’s counterpart, C.J. Beathard, fell to 1-7 as a starter with the loss to the Packers, but the defense failed the 49ers more than anything.
Beathard, starting in place of injured Jimmy Garoppolo, connected with dynamic wideout Marquise Goodwin, who had career highs in receiving yards (126) and touchdowns (two).
“I think you guys saw that for your guys’ selves,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said of Goodwin’s impact. “We’d been missing ‘Quise a lot. He’s been battling to get back. That was the first game the true ‘Quise was back.”
Whether Garoppolo or Beathard has started at quarterback the past 11 games, the 49ers rank fourth in the NFL in passing first downs during that stretch (154), sixth in net yards per game (394.5) and tied for eighth in pass plays gaining 10 or more yards (126).
“Guys are respecting (Goodwin’s) speed,” Beathard said. “You’ve got to respect his speed. He can take the tops off of coverages, so it definitely helps having him out there.”
With Garoppolo out for the season, the 49ers signed 28-year-old veteran Tom Savage and said he’ll begin as the third-team quarterback. Shanahan said Savage will be behind Beathard and Nick Mullens.
“It’s very hard for someone to compete for the backup spot,” Shanahan explained. “The only reps the backup spot gets in the NFL is the scout-team cards. So we’ll give him some scout-team cards to let him get some work and stuff.”
The Rams apparently will not have wide receiver Cooper Kupp available on Sunday after he was tackled from behind on a horse-collar by the Broncos last Sunday and his knee bent awkwardly. The knee was diagnosed as a sprain that could keep him out for several weeks but not months.
“It was scary,” Goff said. “That is the reason to have the rules in place. That is the reason why the flag is called. We try to eliminate that exact tackle and it is scary.”