Deebo Samuel, 49ers roll over Rams, forge four-way NFC West tie

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In their two losses this season, the San Francisco 49ers’ defense needed just a little help from offense. It turned out Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams that a good helping of Deebo Samuel was really needed.

The Niners’ previously struggling offense got the spark it needed from Samuel, who ignited the offense with a whirling dervish of a 57-yard touchdown catch and advanced to a six-catch, 115-yard night. San Francisco’s stifling defense did the rest with a 24-9 win that marked the Niners’ seventh straight win against the Rams in the regular season. The win put the 49ers 2-2 in the season and 2-0 in the NFC West.

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San Francisco 49ers

Stunning next-gen stats: Samuel’s 57-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter included 51 yards after the catch above expectations, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. That’s the second-most passing game for the Niners since 2016, behind only the 83-yard catch he needed to get a result in a Week 8 win against the Chicago Bears in 2021. Samuel rushed for a total of 79.7 yards on touchdown.

Buy Talanoa Hufanga’s breakout performance: The Niners’ strong sophomore safety looked like a rising star for the first three weeks of the season with his fearless offensive style and 40+ coverage skills. But Hufanga made a big statement in front of a national crowd Monday night, stepping in front of a short Matthew Stafford throw and juggling the ball a bit before saving it and dashing 52 yards for the game-winning touchdown. The Niners’ defense is already star-studded, but it looks like they need room for one more.

QB Breakdown: 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo insisted all week that finding a rhythm was a work in progress and would take time. And while that was clearly still the case on Monday, Garoppolo was undoubtedly improving from Week 3 to Week 4. Garoppolo missed a few shots that he had to make, but he was mostly on time and got rid of the ball quickly from behind an offensive line where the Stern failed to compete against Trent Williams. Most importantly, he had zero turnover in a game where a giveaway could have changed the outcome. He finished 16 of 27 for 239 yards with a touchdown for a 100.7 passer rating. –-Nick Wagoner

Knowing underestimated statistics: Rams kicker Matt Gay’s field goal in the first quarter marked the first points the 49ers have conceded on their first defensive possession of the season. It was also the first points the 49ers allowed in a first quarter this season. They were the last team to concede a point in the first quarter.

Next game: at Panthers (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)


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Los Angeles Rams

Sean McVay said after the Los Angeles Rams’ Week 3 win that the offensive was still in the process of figuring out their identities. In the Rams’ loss Monday night, that identity wasn’t finding the end zone against an excellent San Francisco 49ers defense.

QB Breakdown: For the second straight week, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t throw a touchdown, but this time Los Angeles’ offense couldn’t do enough for an NFC West win. Stafford completed 32 of 48 passes for 254 yards with an interception and a fumble. The offensive ran through Cooper Kupp again Monday night when the wide receiver finished with 14 catches for 122 yards. Only Kupp and tight end Tyler Higbee had more than three catches for the Rams.

Worrying trend: After the Buffalo Bills conceded seven sacks in the season opener, the Rams’ offensive line remained more stable in Weeks 2 and 3. But against the 49ers on Monday night, Stafford was sacked seven times, four of them in the first half. Stafford has been pressured 17 times, his second most since joining the Rams, according to an investigation by ESPN Stats & Information. The Rams are struggling with multiple injuries on the offensive line and were down except for their third-string center Jeremiah Kolone after center Coleman Shelton left the game with an ankle injury.

Largest hole on the board: Stopping Samuel continues to be a problem for Los Angeles. Including the playoffs, Samuel has had five touchdowns against the Rams since the start of the 2021 season. This is the highest by any player against any team since the start of last season, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. Samuel finished the game with six catches for 115 yards, though 57 yards came on the game’s biggest play when Samuel dodged several Rams tacklers for a long catch and ran for a touchdown. Samuel had two plays for 29 yards or more on Monday. The Rams have one of those distances or more all season. — Sarah Barshop

Knowing underestimated statistics: Stafford’s pick-six, which Talanoa Hufanga returned in the fourth quarter for a 52-yard score, was just the third on a screen pass in the last three seasons across the league (Tom Brady threw one in 2021 and Cam Newton threw one in 2020). .

Next game: vs. Cowboys (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34719962/deebo-samuel-49ers-forge-four-way-tie-nfc-west-handle-depleted-rams-monday-night-football Deebo Samuel, 49ers roll over Rams, forge four-way NFC West tie

Emma Bowman

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