Joe Montana threw for three touchdowns and 365 yards today to lead the San Francisco 49ers to a 33-0 rout of the Los Angeles Rams and a three-game lead in the NFC West.

The 49ers, who in midweek had 14 players ill with flu, improved to 8-1 while the second-place Rams fell to 5-4. It was the first time Los Angeles had been shut out since a 24-0 loss to Pittsburgh in 1981.

A Rams executive who preferred anonymity asked instead, "How did our guys get sick so fast?"

Montana completed 21 of 31 passes, including a screen pass to Roger Craig that went for a 64-yard touchdown, a six-yard scoring pass to Freddie Solomon and a 44-yard look-in to Dwight Clark for a score.

Craig also scored on a six-yard run in the third quarter. Ray Wersching kicked two 46-yard field goals in the first half.

"We knew we could throw the ball against them," Montana said. "We know we can throw the ball against any team. We're in a good position now. We're in the second half of the season and feel we can take it all the way.

"It was truly a great defensive game. It was our best game as a team this year.

"It comes down to us executing better than they did."

"We got the offense going after a slow start, but more importantly, we kept our heads up and didn't blink on defense," said San Francisco Coach Bill Walsh. "I think we had a great all-around performance today."

"I wasn't satisfied with anything -- we got beat, 33-0," said Los Angeles Coach John Robinson. "We didn't come up with the big play. We just didn't get the job done."

The Rams, who lost three fumbles, reached the San Francisco one in the second quarter and the four in the fourth quarter.

The 49ers extended their 19-0 halftime lead when Craig finished a 95-yard drive with his six-yard run around left end. Montana, who has thrown 15 touchdown passes this season, was superb on the drive, beginning it with a 38-yard pass to Solomon that got San Francisco out of trouble. The touchdown was the 49ers' first in a third quarter this season.

Montana completed his 13th consecutive pass when he threw to Clark on the look-in with 7:02 left in the game.

Los Angeles' Jeff Kemp was intercepted twice. A third-quarter interception by Eric Wright ended Kemp's streak of 119 straight passes without an interception.

Eric Dickerson, the NFL's second-leading rusher, was slowed with a sprained toe and finished with only 38 yards on 13 carries. Kemp, who was sacked five times, was 14 of 30 for 180 yards.

Solomon caught six passes for 94 yards and Clark had four receptions for 90. The 49ers had 472 yards in total offense compared to 206 for the Rams.

Dwight Hicks' recovery of David Hill's fumble set up Wersching's first field goal. The 49ers took over at their 40 and moved close enough for Wersching to make the 46-yarder 4:38 into the game.

Six completions by Montana, the longest a 15-yard sideline pass to Solomon, helped the 49ers take a 6-0 advantage midway through the second quarter.

Wersching succeeded from 36 yards out, but a holding penalty forced him to do it over from 46.