SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The San Francisco 49ers have a new Mr. Reliable on offense -- and the same 'ol one on defense.
Tight end Vernon Davis caught a 13-yard pass for his third touchdown in two weeks, Patrick Willis returned an interception 23 yards for a score and the 49ers overcame the absence of star running back Frank Gore with a 35-0 rout of the winless St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
The 49ers (3-1) scored in every way to take command of the NFC West after already beating reigning division champion Arizona and Seattle, recording their first shutout in 119 games since Jan. 6, 2002, 38-0 at New Orleans.
The Rams (0-4) lost their 14th straight, the longest skid in the NFL. St. Louis was blanked for the second time after losing 28-0 to the Seahawks in the season opener.
San Francisco scored touchdowns via special teams, offense and defense for the first time since Nov. 10, 1997, in a 24-12 win at Philadelphia. This also marked the 49ers' largest margin of victory since a 50-14 win over Arizona on Dec. 7, 2003.
Josh Morgan caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Shaun Hill early in the fourth quarter, then Ray McDonald scooped up a fumble by Rams quarterback Kyle Boller and ran 11 yards for another TD 14 seconds later.
San Francisco found a fortunate, wacky way to finally get on the board late in the first half. Rookie fifth-round draft pick Scott McKillop recovered a botched punt return by St. Louis in the end zone. And a lackluster first half by the Niners' offense turned lively in the last 30 minutes.
McKillop capitalized when St. Louis' Danny Amendola let Andy Lee's punt go and teammate Quincy Butler tried to pick up the ball but couldn't gain control. The 49ers swarmed and McKillop came up with the ball at the bottom of the pile.
Boller had a tough return to the Bay Area in his first start for St. Louis. A former college star at Cal , he went 13 for 24 for 108 yards and was sacked five times in place of injured starter Marc Bulger (bruised rotator cuff).
Willis wreaked havoc, often blitzing untouched and coming at the Rams' offense from every angle to finish with eight tackles -- five solo -- and 2 1/2 sacks.
Without Gore, who injured his ankle during a last-second loss at Minnesota in Week 3, the 49ers struggled to move in their power run offense. Rookie Glen Coffee took on a bigger role, but finished with 75 yards on 24 carries.
Hill improved his career record at Candlestick Park to 7-0. He was 14 of 24 for 152 yards and four sacks.
Rams kicker Josh Brown missed a 51-yard field goal in the opening quarter and St. Louis had few other opportunities.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
APTV 10-04-09 1822CDT