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Stingy defense leads Niners to blowout win

It was over when ...

49ers LB Patrick Willis returns an interception for a TD vs. the Rams.
(Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)

49ers linebacker Patrick Willis intercepted a pass by Rams QB Kyle Boller and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown, giving San Francisco a 21-0 lead with 5:31 left in the third quarter.

Game ball

In pitching the shutout, the Niners allowed 177 total yards, had five sacks and scored two defensive touchdowns, including DE Ray McDonald's 11-yard fumble return in the fourth quarter.

Key stat

The Rams committed 10 penalties for 73 yards. Not only did that put the St. Louis offense in less-than-ideal situations, it also allowed the 49ers defense to pick up steam.

Noteworthy

This was the first shutout for the 49ers since Jan. 6, 2002, when they beat the Saints 38-0. ... The Niners shut out their NFC West rivals for the first time since Sept. 8, 1996 (34-0). ... This is the second time this season the Rams have been blanked. They lost the season-opener 28-0 to Seattle. ... Filling in for injured RB Frank Gore, rookie Glen Coffee rushed 24 times for 74 yards. He also had 32 yards receiving.

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