Rams HC Sean McVay :
Though the game was in Santa Clara, California, it certainly had the feel of a Hollywood premiere.
However, as the Rams were ready to roll out the red carpet, the underdog San Francisco 49ers were hardly ready to roll over and showed it with a physical, run-based attack from the start that led them to a 31-10 upset.
“This was a humbling night for us,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said.
All in on their Super Bowl aspirations, the Rams (7-3) are sitting in second place in the NFC West after losing to the rival 49ers (4-5) for the fifth straight time.
Not only was it an upset loss, but it was one in which the 49ers grounded and pounded their way to victory, running the ball 44 times for 156 yards. They were more often than not the more physical team on each side of the ball and it showed from the onset, when San Francisco took over after a Jimmie Ward interception and proceeded to run it right down the Rams’ throats for a 7-0 lead it would never relinquish.
It was an 18-play, 93-yard odyssey of an opening drive for the 49ers that took 11 minutes, 3 seconds of game clock and perhaps took something more from the Rams.
Following that soul-crushing opening salvo by the 49ers, Ward had yet another interception, returning this one for a touchdown when a Matthew Stafford pass was dropped by Tyler Higbee and cradled by Ward. The start was emphatic and methodical, and quick and staggering.
“We wanted to make it as physical as possible and we knew if we did that, it would come down to the turnover battle,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, whose team won the turnover battle, 2-0, thanks to Ward’s two interceptions.
The 49ers had forced their will, while the Rams seemed to have lost theirs.
It was hardly following the script, as the 49ers, reeling all season, were supposed to be the first foe vanquished by the new-age band of Rams with Beckham and Miller adding to the all-star cast that is the Los Angeles roster. But it didn’t go that way.
Los Angeles, despite its additions over the last few weeks, has lost two in row to the Titans and 49ers, with each defeat coming by double-digit margins and the Rams’ high-octane offense held to an average of 13 points.
“I choose to believe that these last couple weeks are not who we are. I refuse to believe that, event that, you know what, you’re only as good as your last game,” McVay said. “These last two weeks have certainly been humbling.”
Heading into Monday, this game was very much all about the Rams and the hopeful debuts of Miller and Beckham, but the Niners apparently didn’t get the memo.
Stafford wasted no time in getting Beckham introduced to the Rams offense, hooking up with the former Browns and Giants wideout on the first play from scrimmage for a 5-yard gain. Unfortunately, Beckham tallied his first tackle as a Ram on the drive when a Stafford deep ball was intercepted. It appeared that Beckham and Stafford might not have been on the same page on the play. Perhaps Beckham didn’t run the deep route Stafford expected or perhaps it was just a bad ball.
“We didn’t make enough plays,” said McVay, whose team lost the time of possession battle, 39:03-20:57. “Our best players didn’t play up to their standards.”
Stafford hooked up with Higbee for the Rams’ only touchdown of the evening to cut the score to 14-7, but the 49ers responded with an 11-play, 91-yard scoring drive, underscoring that this was San Francisco’s night and their style of game.
“We were ready to play them today and we were excited to,” Shanahan said.
At one point, Jalen Ramsey could be seen yelling on the sidelines, while Miller was getting oxygen on the bench.
When the loss had settled, Beckham and Miller, each downplayed it, simply chalking it up to a bad night against a team that played better.
Plenty of eyes were on Beckham, though. In six games with the Browns this season, he averaged 2.8 catches on 5.7 targets for 38.7 yards per game. In his Rams debut, he had two catches on three targets for 18 yards.
“I was excited. Felt like I was ready for the moment,” Beckham said. “I’ve been through so much and God has put me in this position for that exact moment. And it just wasn’t our night. There’s really no way around it, it just wasn’t our night.”
Miller was likewise quiet in his first Rams showing, tallying two tackles in 41 snaps. But he’s happy to be in Southern California and happy to have his friend Beckham join him.
“It’s definitely been a movie, it’s definitely been a good movie. Today was a bad scene, but I feel like we’ll be able to fight out of this, I feel like we’ll be able to recover from this,” Miller said. “But having Odell on this team, it’s great. That’s my buddy, on an off the football field. We continue to gel, I continue to gel. And I’m exciting. Losing is definitely not fun, but playing today was fun. Going out there and feeling myself move around and be quick and have some great rushes; I had fun today. I’m gonna gather myself, take the good and the bad and go into this bye week and figure it out. I feel excited about this football team, I feel excited about what we can do.”
This one definitely went off-script.
The 49ers aren’t yet done this season and the Rams clearly haven’t won the Super Bowl in November no matter how many big names they have on their roster.
As Monday night beckoned, everyone was tuning in to see the new-look Rams, the star-studded Super Bowl contenders.
When Monday night concluded, everyone saw the 49ers that many envisioned would be Super Bowl contenders before the season began.
Said McVay: “It’s only going to take as much of a toll as we allow it to.”
Said Shanahan: “We need to start expecting some more games like that.”
Once upon a time in the wild NFC West, things got a whole lot more interesting on Monday night.
Rams HC Sean McVay Rams HC Sean McVay Rams HC Sean McVay