SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Aaron Donald ripped the ball out of Matt Breida’s hands to set up one touchdown. He harassed C.J. Beathard with four sacks and several other hits that helped shut down San Francisco’s offense.
Donald’s dominance helped improve Los Angeles to 7-0 for the first time since 1985 with a 39-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and showed that the defense can play as big a role in the success as the Rams’ high-powered offense.
“I don’t think there’s anybody that’s been like him in the NFL,” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. “He’s in a class of his own. At the end of the day, he’s still an NFL player and our job is to block him. He was really impactful today.”
That’s an understatement.
Donald used his brute strength to set up one of Todd Gurley’s three touchdowns with his fumble recovery in the first half for the Rams and got a couple of his sacks by just pushing offensive linemen into Beathard and knocking him down.
After recording no sacks in his first three games following a training camp holdout, Donald now has eight in the past four games, showing why he earned that $135 million, six-year contract this summer.
“You feel him and he did a great job affecting and influencing the game in a variety of ways,” coach Sean McVay said. “He was great against the run, did a good job of being able to get to Beathard on a handful of occasions. But, our defense overall, Aaron was a big part of that.”
Donald had plenty of help on defense with Cory Littleton getting two sacks and a blocked punt for a safety ; Troy Hill and John Johnson III intercepting passes; and Samson Ebukam getting an early strip sack that Trevon Young recovered.
“One of the best defensive performances I’ve been around,” Rams quarterback Jared Goff said. “It seemed like every time we sat down we got back up and went on the field. ... It was just a lot of fun to watch.”