SANTA CLARA -- Defensive lineman Justin Smith said the way the 49ers beat the St. Louis Rams in their most-recent game was just as important as the team ending a two-game losing streak.

Smith said the 49ers imposed their will upon the Rams in a manner similar to the way they did most games the past two seasons. That's something the 49ers lacked in losses to the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts.

"It was important to get back to what we do as a team," Smith said Wednesday. "It seemed like we got our identity back a little bit, stopping the ball and running the ball. That was important. It's going to be important for us to keep passing (similar) tests."

The 49ers coaches are huge proponents of being able to run the ball well and stopping the run on a consistent basis.

Whereas most coaches preach those tenets, the 49ers succeed far more often than not in executing them in games.

Against the Rams, the 49ers ran the ball 40 times for 219 yards and held Rams running backs to 22 yards on 16 carries. The 49ers held the ball for 31 minutes, 45 seconds, while limiting the Rams to 28:15.

"The last couple of years, just looking at it, that's what this team has been built on," Smith said, "is stopping the run, running the football and ... controlling the clock. Both sides working together.

"It just seems like that St. Louis game; that's our calling card, that's our identity. It was good to see that."

The key now is finding a way to avoid lapses in this mind-set, Smith said, something the 49ers rarely experienced the past two seasons.

The Seahawks and Colts games offered the 49ers harsh reminders that having their play match their philosophy is easier said than done.

The hardest part of the equation is ingrained, though.

"You know what you want to be and who you're trying to be," Smith said. "That's important. Some teams don't know that. We know what we want to do, we just got to go out and do it."