INGLEWOOD — The 49ers continued their regular-season dominance over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, and it might have saved their season.
Running back Christian McCaffrey had a memorable game and showed exactly when the 49ers parted with four draft picks to acquire him.
And old standbys Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle put the finishing touches on a 31-14 victory when they teamed up for a 7-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
Here is a look at some of the takeaways from San Francisco’s critical Week 8 victory in front of a crowd comprised mostly of 49ers fans at SoFi Stadium:
Where the 49ers stand at the bye week
The bye week comes at a perfect time for the 49ers.
Where have you heard that before?
The 49ers should get some injured players — such as Deebo Samuel, Elijah Mitchell, Arik Armstead, Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair — back after the bye.
This was a critical game for the NFC West rivals. The 49ers evened their record to 4-4 on the season, while the Rams fall to 3-4 coming off their bye week. The division-leading Seattle Seahawks improved to 5-3 with an impressive win over the New York Giants on Sunday.
The 49ers remain unbeaten in the NFC West with the season sweep of the Rams. That becomes critical because the 49ers would hold any tie-breaker edge of their in-state rival.
The 49ers beat the Rams, 24-9, in Week 4 at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers return from their week off to face the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 13. Then, the 49ers face Arizona in Mexico City, followed by New Orleans, Miami, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Washington, Las Vegas and Arizona.
The last opportunity for teams to bolster their roster closes with the NFL trade deadline on Tuesday.
McCaffrey does it all
Deebo Samuel, the ultimate Rams killer, was not available due to a hamstring injury. So the 49ers were certain to count heavily on recently acquired Christian McCaffrey.
Sure enough, McCaffrey ran the ball, and he caught the ball.
But the 49ers scored their first points on Sunday with his ability to throw the ball.
McCaffrey did it all, becoming the first running back in franchise to throw a touchdown pass, catch a touchdown pass and score on a touchdown run.
It all started in the most unlikely of ways.
McCaffrey took a backward pass from Jimmy Garoppolo along the right side, then lofted a throw down the field to a wide-open Brandon Aiyuk for a 34-yard touchdown.
McCaffrey’s second career touchdown pass tied the game at 7-7 with 12:10 remaining in the second quarter.
The play was reminiscent of a scoring play the 49ers had in their critical Week 18 game against the Rams when Samuel found Jauan Jennings for a 24-yard game-tying touchdown in the third quarter to rally the 49ers back from a 17-0 deficit.
Then, the 49ers took a 17-14 lead late in the third quarter when McCaffrey caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo. McCaffrey went high in the back right corner of the end zone to make the catch against the coverage of Jalen Ramsey.
On the 49ers’ next drive, McCaffrey blasted into the end zone from 1-yard out to give the 49ers a 24-14 lead with 12:07 remaining in regulation.
McCaffrey finished with 94 rushing yards on 18 carries, 55 receiving yards on eight receptions and the one completion for 34 yards.
Rams play 49ersBall in the first half
The 49ers’ winning formula in the past against the Rams has generally consisted a ball-control offense that dominates time of possession.
The Rams got going on Sunday with a 49ers-like 17-play, 88 yards drive that culminated in Matthew Stafford’s first touchdown run since the 2016 season.
The drive was prolonged twice inside the 4-yard line on penalties that resulted in automatic first downs.
Ambry Thomas was called for defensive holding on an incomplete pass on a second-and-goal play from the 4.
Three plays later, Charvarius Ward was called for pass interference against Allen Robinson in the end zone on a third-and-goal play from the 2.
On the Rams’ seventh play from inside the 4, Stafford scored on a third-and-goal scramble from the 1-yard line to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.
The 49ers’ defense got tough in the second half with Fred Warner and Nick Bosa registering huge third-down sacks of Stafford.