ST. LOUIS — Together, the oldest player and the youngest player on the St. Louis Rams roster came through.
The Rams’ best call in a 16-6 victory against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday was backup quarterback Chris Chandler, 39, handing off to Steven Jackson, 21.
Marshall Faulk’s understudy showed he is ready for full-time duty and Chandler helped the Rams survive Marc Bulger’s shoulder injury.
“I think he was born when I was going into college,” Chandler said. “We actually joked around about that a lot in the preseason, and how I was the oldest guy and he’s the youngest guy and let’s take it down the field and score on them.”
Jackson ran for 119 yards on 26 carries, his first career 100-yard game. He was the first running back taken in this year’s draft and he took advantage of Faulk’s bruised left knee to get his first full game.
“I knew early on that I was getting the start and that I was going to be playing a lot,” Jackson said. “I challenged myself to go over 100 yards, and Coach Martz did a good job of sticking with the run.”
San Francisco coach Dennis Erickson coached Jackson for two years at Oregon State, so he wasn’t surprised by what happened.
“He’s a heck of a player, he really is,” Erickson said. “One good recruit I got, anyway.”
Bulger had taken every snap this season before leaving with a sprained right shoulder, an injury that’s not considered serious by the Rams. He injured the shoulder on a sack by Bryant Young late in the first quarter. Chandler threw his first touchdown pass in more than a year, but also threw an interception into double coverage and lost a fumble.
Chandler, the first quarterback other than Bulger to direct a St. Louis victory since the end of the 2001 season, was 18-for-27 for 216 yards and hit Torry Holt for a 22-yard score in the second quarter for the Rams’ lone touchdown. He most recently threw a touchdown pass on Nov. 16, 2003 for the Bears, against St. Louis.
The Rams’ (6-6) Jeff Wilkins added three field goals, including two from 52 yards. The St. Louis defense sealed it against one of the worst teams in the NFL by holding the 49ers (1-11) to 63 yards rushing on 27 carries.
St. Louis had lost four of five and defense had been the main culprit, allowing 703 yards rushing to the last four opponents.
Jerametrius Butler’s interception at the 7 with 12:35 left and the Rams leading by a touchdown was St. Louis’ biggest play, though. Butler stepped in front of Brandon Lloyd on a slant pattern for his fourth interception, and only the Rams’ 11th takeaway of the season.
Last year, St. Louis had 46 takeaways.
“I knew it was coming because most teams run slants on me,” Butler said. “The ball was right there. It was a huge play.”
Bulger entered the game with an NFL-leading 3,267 yards passing, 71 more than Peyton Manning. He was 3-for-4 for 22 yards before leaving with 1:40 left in the first quarter.
“He’ll be back,” coach Mike Martz said. “Whether it’s this week, we don’t know. He won’t miss a lot of time.”
Making matters worse, the player who Young beat, offensive tackle Grant Williams, also fell on top of Bulger. Williams, who has struggled for several weeks, was benched in the third quarter.
“I just landed on him,” Young said. “I don’t know if Grant was on me or not.”
Faulk had 123 yards rushing in the Rams’ 24-14 victory at San Francisco on Oct. 10 and was active for the rematch, but he wasn’t needed. The 231-pound Jackson carried eight times for 37 yards on St. Louis’ opening drive that set up a 29-yard field goal by Wilkins.
Jackson has started two other games in two-back sets, but Faulk had gotten the vast majority of the playing time. Jackson’s previous bests were 64 yards rushing at Seattle on Oct. 10 and 13 carries against the Bucs on Oct. 18.
Torry Holt had 10 catches for 160 yards to help the Rams go to 5-0 against the weak NFC West. The Rams are the fifth NFL franchise to win 500 games.
Tim Rattay was 10-for-21 for 121 yards for the 49ers, who have lost seven in a row. Rattay sprained an arch on the 49ers’ first possession and Erickson said he was questionable for next week.