Monday, Sept. 19, 1994

49ers beat Rams

By Jerry Magee
San Diego Union-Tribune

ANAHEIM -- Army's "Lonesome End" of the '50s, Bill Carpenter, finally got some company yesterday. Introducing the "Lonesome Cornerback."

He's better known, very well known, in fact, as Deion Sanders.

In for 27 plays during San Francisco's 34-19 conquest of the Rams yesterday, Sanders didn't bother showing up for his side's defensive huddles.

"I know what I have to do," Sanders explained. "I've just got the person in front of me. I don't have to worry about the calls."

Neither did the 49ers have to concern themselves in any degree with the Rams. They dispatched Chuck Knox's team for the eighth consecutive time by drawing away from a 10-10, second-period tie on Steve Young's 31-of-39 passing.

Young's efforts added up to 355 yards and four touchdowns. He threw for two scores -- to John Taylor for 3 yards and to Jerry Rice for 1 -- and twice punched over himself from the Rams' 1.

Sanders, meantime, was performing only on the 49ers' "nickel" defense units -- when they would go with five defensive backs. When he would come on the field, hunkering down at right cornerback, prepared to pursue bump-and-run coverages, the Rams generally went in another direction.

Sanders was credited with two passes defensed. He also was cited for pass interference while policing Flipper Anderson deep. The ruling, in fairness to Sanders, appeared questionable.

"We got the win," Sanders summed up. "Everything was good. I wish I had gotten an interception, but the San Francisco 49ers won today."

Which is why Sanders says he has joined them. Because they're winners.

"I hope I play more and more," said Sanders, who is expected to start next week.

As much as it was about Sanders and Young, yesterday's game before a crowd of 56,479 was about Chris Dalman, a reserve San Francisco offensive lineman. After left tackle Steve Wallace suffered a bruise to his right thigh in the second period, the 49ers had only one starting offensive lineman left, center Bart Oates.

Earlier, the team had lost the right side of its line, guard Ralph Tamm and tackle Harris Barton, plus left guard Jesse Sapolu. Sapolu's absence made it necessary for Dalman, a second-year player from Stanford, to face off against Sean Gilbert, the Rams' 315-pound defensive tackle.

Gilbert couldn't get off the line of scrimmage. Dalman, in his first start and outweighed by 25 pounds, shut him off completely, depriving the crowd of seeing Gilbert enact a mock earthquake -- his manner of celebrating a big play.

"No, no, no, I didn't want to see it," said Dalman.

"Dalman is a good guy to coach," said Bobb McKittrick, San Francisco's offensive line coach. "He's a Stanford guy who is abnormally tough. This is a blacksmith. He looks like a guy who somewhere down the line can become a starter at center or guard."

What Knox meant to do -- control the ball -- became apparent on the Rams' first possession when Jerome Bettis carried on the first five plays. The Rams proceeded to hold the football for 4:21 in going 59 yards to a touchdown that made it 7-7.

On their second possession, the Rams held the ball for 6:23 in positioning Tony Zendejas for the 25-yard field goal that etched a second tie, 10-10.

But Rams quarterback Chris Miller wasn't throwing well. Before he left the game early in the fourth period with a "burner" in his right shoulder, Miller was just 8-of-19 for 86 yards. Unable to throw effectively, the Rams couldn't hold the ball; their last eight series lasted no longer than 3:04.

The 49ers, meantime, were moving easily toward a second victory in three games. Young beat the halftime clock with a masterfully orchestrated 77-yard drive that he finished by leaning in from the 1. His sixth straight completion on this assault, to Rice for 28 yards, preceded the quarterback's touchdown.

It started a run of 17 straight points by the winners, who held a 34-13 lead before the Rams scored an anticlimactic touchdown with 1:56 to go on a 2-yard Bettis plunge. A pass for two conversion points failed.

The Rams now are 1-2. Things aren't going to get any easier. Their next game: against the Chiefs in Kansas City.