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Rams’ Aaron Donald returns to making big plays and causing havoc against 49ers

Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald forces a fumble as he tackles 49ers running back Raheem Mostert.
Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald forces a fumble as he tackles 49ers running back Raheem Mostert during the third quarter Sunday. Rams cornerback Troy Hill recovered the ball and ran it back for a touchdown.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Rams spent part of last week lamenting the lack of holding calls against opposing offensive linemen attempting to block Aaron Donald.

The two-time NFL defensive player of the year had nine sacks but had gone two games without making a tackle.

Donald broke out Sunday during the Rams’ 23-20 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium.

Donald deflected a first-quarter pass by Nick Mullens that was intercepted by safety Jordan Fuller. He also had one of the Rams’ two sacks, and he burst into the backfield and stripped the ball from 49ers running back Raheem Mostert, enabling cornerback Troy Hill to return the fumble for a touchdown.

“Just playing the same game I’ve been playing,” Donald said. “The ball was coming to me. I had certain opportunities by just moving around and took advantage of it. So the same things I’ve been doing prior weeks, just the ball was coming my way.”

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The 49ers defeated the Rams, 24-16, on Oct. 18, and Donald said this week the Rams would not come out flat.

But the Rams were in a short week after defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Monday night in Tampa, Fla., and after the organization had two COVID-19 tests that turned out to be false positives, coach Sean McVay canceled practice Friday.

Deebo Samuel played a big role in the 49ers’ victory over the Rams earlier in the season, and this time comes back from injury to record 11 catches and 133 yards receiving in another San Francisco victory.

Did the missed practice affect the Rams?

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“I don’t think practice being canceled affected nothing,” Donald said, adding that players were fresh and ready. “We just made mistakes.”

Akers shines

Rookie running back Cam Akers, who scored his first NFL touchdown on a pass reception against the Buccaneers, scored his first rushing touchdown against the 49ers.

Akers set up the scoring run by breaking away for a 61-yard gain on the final play of the third quarter.

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On first and goal from the six-yard line, he rushed for five yards. He scored one play later to give the Rams a 20-17 lead. Akers finished with 84 yards in nine carries.

“Cam Akers did a great job with his long run and then being able to finish off that drive with two hard runs in the red zone,” McVay said. “Guys made some plays, they gave us a chance.”

Etc.

Linebacker Troy Reeder, who started in place of injured Micah Kiser, led the Rams with 15 tackles. ... Receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp could not duplicate their performances of Monday night. Against the Buccaneers, Woods caught 12 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, and Kupp caught 11 passes for 145 yards. On Sunday, Woods caught seven passes for 80 yards. Kupp had two receptions for 41 yards.

Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Rams’ 23-30 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.

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