Interceptions and dropped passes doom Rams in 31-10 loss to 49ers

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford sits on the bench with his teammates.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, left, sits on the bench with his teammates in the second half of a 31-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium on Monday.
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

Poor game management and uncharacteristic mistakes ruin the Rams debuts of Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. in a 31-10 loss to the 49ers.

49ers defeat Rams for the fifth consecutive time in 31-10 stunner

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp reacts after an incomplete pass.
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp reacts after an incomplete pass during the second half of a 31-10 loss Monday to the 49ers.
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

SANTA CLARA — Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was in the starting lineup. So was linebacker Von Miller.

The Rams’ two newest stars — on a team that is fairly bursting with them — made their debut Monday night.

It didn’t matter.

Not against the San Francisco 49ers. Not with the Rams biggest star, quarterback Matthew Stafford putting them in a hole for a second consecutive game.

And not with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan once again outdueling protégé Sean McVay.

All that buzz about the Rams?

It ended when they ran into an unexpected buzz saw.

Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. watches from the sideline during the second half Monday.
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

The Rams and the 49ers played role reversal in the Rams’ 31-10 defeat at Levi’s Stadium.

The Rams, with an opportunity to tie the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC West lead, instead lost their second game in a row and saw their record drop to 7-3 overall and 1-2 in the division.

The 49ers improved to 4-5 by defeating the Rams for the fifth consecutive time.

Consider: The Rams have not won a game against the 49ers since 2018, the season they went to the Super Bowl.

The additions of Stafford, Miller and Beckham were made with the aim — no, let’s call it the mandate — that the boom-or-bust Rams play in Super Bowl LVI in February at owner Stan Kroenke’s $5-billion SoFi Stadium.

That investment in talent might still pay off.

Rams linebacker Von Miller lines up against the 49ers in the first half.
(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

But the Rams are limping into next week’s open date.

They will need the physical rest and mental reset as they prepare for their final seven games, a stretch that begins Nov. 28 against the currently top-seeded Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

It also includes non-division road games against the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, a non-division home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a division road game against the NFC West-leading Cardinals and division home games against the Seattle Seahawks and the 49ers.

That schedule would be tough for a team that was riding high like the Rams were two weeks ago.

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Rams kick field goal in garbage time vs. 49ers

49ers 31, Rams 10 — 3:48 fourth quarter

Matt Gay kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Rams their first points of the second half against the 49ers.

The Rams tried an onside kick after the field goal, but the 49ers recovered.


Rams squander another scoring opportunity in the red zone

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford passes against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at Levi's Stadium.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford passes against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at Levi’s Stadium on Monday night.
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

49ers 31, Rams 7 — 6:05 fourth quarter

The Rams’ hopes of beating the San Francisco 49ers tonight are all but over.

Matthew Stafford botched a potential scoring opportunity on third-and-goal from the San Francisco 6-yard line when he threw an illegal forward pass. It appeared he considered trying to make a break for the end zone, but he pulled up after scrambling over the line of scrimmage.

Stafford’s illegal pass to Van Jefferson on the edge of the end zone was incomplete, anyway. Had he chosen to run, there’s a good chance Stafford would have scored or set up fourth down from the one- or two-yard line.

Stafford then threw an incomplete pass to Jefferson on fourth down for the Rams’ second red-zone turnover of the game.

The Rams have had five dropped passes tonight, including three on third down.


Deebo Samuel scores on fourth-down touchdown pass

49ers 31, Rams 7 — 11:07 fourth quarter

The 49ers made a huge gamble on fourth down and it paid off.

On fourth-and-six, San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo connected on a 40-yard touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel to extend the 49ers’ lead and virtually annihilate the Rams’ comeback hopes.

Samuel has been a force for the 49ers, with five catches for 97 yards tonight.

The Rams have gone three-and-out on their last three offensive possessions. They need a touchdown quick to have a chance at preventing the 49ers from winning for the first time at Levi’s Stadium in 391 days.


Dropped passes derailing Rams’ comeback aspirations vs. 49ers

Rams wide receiver Ben Skowronek catches a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the third half.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

49ers 24, Rams 7 — end of third quarter

The Rams went three-and-out on their three possessions in the third quarter, and dropped passes on third down are threatening to derail their comeback hopes.

Cooper Kupp dropped a very-catchable pass on third down on the Rams’ second possession of the quarter before a dropped pass by Tyler Higbee on a slightly underthrown Matthew Stafford pass annihilated another Rams possession.

With the Rams seemingly abandoning their running game and running out of time, they’ll need 15 minutes of mistake-free football to avoid being upset.


Robbie Gould field goal extends 49ers’ lead over Rams

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, left, is tackled by Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey during the first half.
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

49ers 24, Rams 7 — 4:38 third quarter

Robbie Gould kicked a 50-yard field goal to extend the 49ers’ lead over the Rams in the third quarter.

The 49ers managed to march into Rams’ territory on their second possession of the second half, but ran out of steam after Jimmy Garoppolo could only manage a pair of short passes before throwing his first incompletion of the game on third down.

But San Francisco didn’t have to wait long to get the ball back. The Rams went three-and-out for the second time in the quarter when Cooper Kupp dropped a very-catchable pass on third down. The 49ers are winning the time of possession game (28:37 to 13:22) and the Rams are running out of time.


Rams go three-and-out on first possession of second half

The Rams’ defense finally prevented the 49ers from going on a time-killing drive to open the second half.

Matthew Stafford and the offense, however, went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, ruining a chance to jump start a comeback. It’ll be up to the Rams’ defense again to make sure the 49ers don’t pound out another 10-minute drive.


Rams trail 49ers 21-7 at halftime after failed fake field-goal try

49ers 21, Rams 7 — halftime

Sean McVay really wanted the Rams to find the end zone before halftime. Unsurprisingly, he went with a fake field-goal attempt, and the 49ers were ready.

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle D.J. Jones thwarted the Rams’ attempt for a first down inside the red zone when he tackled Rams tight end Kendall Blanton. Johnny Hekker connected on a short pass to Blanton, who managed to get a couple yards before the 305-pound Jones brought him down.

The Rams were driving on the possession before a penalty on center Brian Allen and a loss of yards on a catch by Tyler Higbee allowed the 49ers to force fourth down.

But McVay has a reputation for fake punts and field-goal attempts, so it wasn’t a big shock that he tried the fake punt to inject some life into his team before halftime.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed 13 of 17 passes for 138 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is 8 for 8 for 89 yards and a touchdown.

The Rams were the favorite going into the game, but the 49ers might pull off their fifth consecutive win over their L.A. rival. The Rams need to get into the end zone and stop the 49ers from constructing 10-minute scoring marches.


49ers baffling and frustrating the Rams with methodical drives

Rams coach Sean McVay walks on the sideline during the first half against the 49ers.
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

49ers 21, Rams 7 — 5:24 second quarter

The 49ers aren’t living up to their gold-rush era moniker, but their methodical drives are proving extremely challenging for the Rams to stifle.

Deebo Samuel capped off an 11-play, 91-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown run to extend the 49ers’ lead.

After the touchdown, TV cameras caught Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey yelling at defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. It’s clear the Rams are frustrated after allowing the 49ers to convert on all five of their third downs so far.

While most of the 49ers’ plays were for short gains, a 20-yard pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to Samuel on third-and-seven coupled by a 13-yard run up the middle by Elijah Mitchell helped set up the touchdown.


Rams get on scoreboard with quick TD in second quarter

49ers 14, Rams 7 — 13:13 second quarter

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford connected on a 10-yard dart to tight end Tyler Higbee for a touchdown early in the second quarter.

The Rams needed to quickly respond after Jimmie Ward’s pick-six, and they did just that. The seven-play, 75-yard drive feature a 16-yard pass to Van Jefferson, a 13-yard pass to Odell Beckham Jr. and a 29-yarder to Cooper Kupp.


Jimmie Ward scores on a pick-six to give 49ers a 14-0 lead

San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward celebrates after intercepting a pass against the Rams on Monday.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

49ers 14, Rams 0 — :49 in first quarter

San Francisco safety Jimmie Ward scored on his second interception of the game, grabbing a pass that bobbled off the hands of Rams tight Tyler Higbee and returning it 27 yards.

Higbee never quite had control of the short pass from Matthew Stafford, which slid forward right into the hands of Ward, who was in perfect position to capitalize.

San Francisco only had two interceptions on the season entering the game — and they have two tonight.


49ers jump out to early lead with 18-play scoring drive

49ers 7, Rams 0 — 1:54 first quarter

What a gritty drive by the San Francisco 49ers to get onto the scoreboard.

After the Rams tried to christen Odell Beckham Jr.’s first start in dramatic but ultimately horrendous fashion, Jimmy Garoppolo orchestrated an 18-play, 93-yard drive that culminated in an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end George Kittle. The drive took 11 minutes and three seconds off the game clock.

The 49ers converted on four third downs and used a flurry of short passes and runs to keep the Rams guessing.


Matthew Stafford throws interception on Rams’ opening drive

The start of the Odell Beckham Jr. era in L.A. has gotten off to a rocky start.

Shortly after Matthew Stafford connected with Beckham on a five-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage, Stafford threw a head-scratcher of a deep bomb intended for Beckham that looked more like a punt than a pass. It was easily intercepted by 49ers safety Jimmie Ward, who made a rarely seen standing pick.

The overthrown pass was clearly Stafford’s fault, and the Rams must figure out what they have in Beckham before hurling 50-yarders toward the playmaker. Beckham in 2015 might have had a chance on that pass — 2021 Beckham doesn’t.


1994 champion 49ers, loaded with free agents, explain how Rams can win it all

San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Steve Young runs over San Diego’s Darrien Gordon in Super Bowl XXIX.
(Andrew Innerarity / Associated Press)

SANTA CLARA — There’s no mistaking the message from the Rams. Clearly, they believe the Lombardi Trophy is within reach.

That was the resounding message the last two weeks when they bolstered their roster with two superstars — pass rusher Von Miller and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. — with the idea those players, such as quarterback Matthew Stafford, will help distance them from the field. The addition of Beckham, nicknamed OBJ, was especially timely with the Rams losing receiver Robert Woods on Friday to a season-ending knee injury.

But there’s a big difference between collecting all-stars and getting the most out of them, something the Philadelphia Eagles learned in 2011 when they assembled the so-called Dream Team yet finished 8-8.

The 1994 San Francisco 49ers were different. A year after the start of NFL free agency, they used salary-cap creativity and a buy-now-pay-later strategy to assemble a constellation of stars, mostly on defense, that included Ken Norton Jr., Richard Dent, Charles Mann, Gary Plummer and the most coveted prize, future Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, who would earn defensive player of the year honors. The 49ers parlayed that plan into a fifth Super Bowl victory.

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Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers matchups, start time and how to watch

Breaking down how the Rams (7-2) and the San Francisco 49ers (3-5) match up heading into their game at 5:15 p.m. PST on Monday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The game will be carried on ABC (Channel 7) and ESPN.

When Rams have the ball: A season-ending knee injury suffered by veteran wide receiver Robert Woods will reverberate through the offense, and not only in the passing game. Woods is regarded as one of the NFL’s best and most selfless blockers at the wide receiver position.

Woods’ absence hastens the need for star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to make his Rams debut against the 49ers rather than waiting until a Nov. 28 game against the Green Bay Packers. Beckham practiced only one day this past week.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford will try to bounce back after essentially giving up 14 points because of two interceptions in a 28-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans last week. Stafford suffered a left ankle sprain in the loss, but he practiced this past week. Stafford’s receiving corps still includes Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, rookie Ben Skowronek and J.J. Koski. Kupp led the NFL in targets (103), receptions (74), yards receiving (1,019) and touchdown catches (10) heading into Sunday.

The offensive line got manhandled against the Titans, giving up five sacks. Center Brian Allen is nursing an elbow injury. If he does not play, Coleman Shelton will play in his place. San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner has been a one-man wrecking crew against the Rams the last two seasons. End Nick Bosa has seven sacks.

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Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. officially active for Rams tonight

As expected, Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. are both active and will make their debut for the Rams against the San Francisco 49ers tonight at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

Here’s who won’t be in uniform for the game:


Rams? Bucs? Cowboys? Which NFL team has the most star power? Here are our rankings

Odell Beckham Jr., shown here with the Cleveland Browns, signed with the Rams last week.
(David Richard / Associated Press)

The Rams are finally a celebrity team.

As with the Lakers and Dodgers, and to some extent the Clippers, the Rams now have a roster that features guys whose fame extends beyond their on-field accomplishments.

This didn’t happen overnight.

Wait a minute — it pretty much did. During the first half of the season, the Rams established themselves as one of the NFL’s best teams. But they did so with guys such as Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp — who are all superstars in the world of football but don’t really seem to qualify as celebrities outside of that.

But that has changed this month, as the Rams added a couple of household names in linebacker Von Miller and receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

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Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers: NFL betting lines, odds and how to watch

Rams (-3.5, 49) at San Francisco 49ers, 5:15 p.m. Monday, ABC, ESPN

The second quarter had been the best of the bunch for the Rams most weeks this season, but that was not the case against the Titans. The Rams led 3-0 after the first quarter but gave up 21 points in the second and didn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter.

The Titans clearly missed Derrick Henry, with only 3.5 yards per play, but the Rams were kept in check with just 4.7 yards per play, well below the league-leading season average that coach Sean McVay’s team had coming into the game.

For the first time in a while, Matthew Stafford looked uncomfortable. He still threw for 294 yards but didn’t move around the pocket well and got hit a lot after spending some time on the injury report leading up to the game. The Titans registered 11 quarterback hits and five sacks.

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Rams’ acquisitions create buzz, but can they produce win against 49ers?

Rams linebacker Von Miller smiles during a practice session in Thousand Oaks on Friday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

The Rams amped up their star power in the last two weeks, adding outside linebacker Von Miller and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

The trade for Miller and the free-agent signing of Beckham created headlines, buzz and social media frenzy about a boom-or-bust Rams team that already boasted quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Now, perhaps, coach Sean McVay and Rams fans finally can see whether the new hires are worthy of the hype.

Miller and Beckham could make their Rams debuts Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. The “Monday Night Football” matchup is the final game for the 7-2 Rams before an open date next week.

“We’re trying to win now,” Donald, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year, said of the Rams’ aggressiveness pursuing star talent. “That’s what it’s about.

“When you see them making moves like this, bringing players and high-talent players … it’s like sky’s the limit.”

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