ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Jerry Rice, who had gone four games without a touchdown, wondered aloud recently whether the 49ers had become too conservative, weren't getting enough big plays.
He need worry no longer.
In last night's 26-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, Rice scored on a 60-yard touchdown pass and rookie Dexter Carter came up with San Francisco's longest touchdown run in 13 years -- 74 yards -- for his first NFL score.
"The two big plays were disastrous for us," said Rams coach John Robinson, whose team had beaten San Francisco 28-17 last month in the only loss for the 49ers (13-1) this year.
"We could not match them big play for big play. In the last game, they didn't get those two big plays and we were able to stay balanced between offensive and defensive plays."
San Francisco safety David Waymer said, "Our offense came up with some big plays when we needed them. We are on a mission and our guys stepped up and did what we had to do to win."
The 49ers led 9-0 in the second quarter when Rice got behind Rams cornerback Jerry Gray, took a perfect pass from Joe Montana and made it into the end zone for a 16-point lead.
"It's nice to get a touchdown pass to anyone, let alone Jerry Rice," said Montana, who threw for 219 yards and was not intercepted. "We have to be able to give a little bit and go downfield when they are sitting on us 10 to 15 yards out."
After the Rams pulled within 19-10 in the third quarter, Carter broke loose on his long scoring run to give the 49ers a 16-point pad early in the final period.
"Jamie Williams got a great block and I just turned it upfield," said Carter, a first-round draft pick out of Florida State. "My feet got tangled up a little bit, but it worked out all right."
Carter broke through the middle of the line, cut to the sidelines and outran three Rams defenders to the end zone for the 49ers' longest scoring run since an 80-yard TD by Wilbur Jackson in 1977.
Carter finished with 124 yards on 13 carries, a sign another 49er runner, the veteran Roger Craig, found encouraging.
"Carter is going to help a lot; you just can't key on anybody on our team," said Craig, who netted just eight yards on eight carries. "Dexter ran outstanding and the offensive linemen did their jobs.
"Hopefully we can carry this on for the next two weeks and in each of the playoffs."
While the two-time defending Super Bowl champion 49ers can look ahead to the playoffs, the Rams (5-9) already are looking toward the 1991 season.
Rams cornerback Gray, asked about speculation that the season might be the last for Robinson, said: "I'm not thinking too much about this 'being the coach's last year' talk. The way our record is, it could be anybody's last year here."
Meanwhile, the 49ers said they were motivated by the opportunity to gain the home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs, not because of the loss earlier in the season to the Rams.
"There was no revenge factor," said fullback Tom Rathman, whose 1-yard plunge on fourth-and-goal midway through the second quarter gave the 49ers a 9-0 lead. "But it would have been awkward to lose two games in a season against them. We just don't like to lose, and that's the bottom line.
"We seem to be a better road team," Rathman said. "We like going into someone's back yard and taking the crowd out of the game. We just want to try to prove something every week. We are not at the level yet that we want to be in the playoffs. We want the momentum, and that's the key."