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Sean McVay vows Rams will ‘come back freaking swinging’ after loss to 49ers

San Francisco's Jimmie Ward returns an intercepted pass intended for the Rams'  Tyler Higbee (89) for a touchdown.
San Francisco’s Jimmie Ward returns an intercepted pass intended for the Rams’ Tyler Higbee (89) for a touchdown.
(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

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.

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

The San Francisco 49ers ran the ball 44 times, soundly executing coach Kyle Shanahan’s time-of-possession strategy to keep the ball out of the Rams’ hands.

All that buzz about the Rams?

It ended when they ran into an unexpected buzz saw.

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.

“I choose to believe that these last couple weeks are not who we are,” McVay said. “I refuse to believe that.”

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.

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

The 49ers' Deebo Samuel runs past Rams cornerback Robert Rochell for a first-half touchdown.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

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 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.

Now the Rams are a team that must fight to show they can collect wins against good teams, not just collect superstars.

“We’ll look inward,” McVay said. “We’re going to figure this thing out and we’re going to come back freaking swinging, I promise you that, these last seven games.”

The Rams lost last week to the Tennessee Titans, when Stafford had two passes intercepted in the second quarter — one that was returned for a touchdown.

Monday night was eerily similar.

San Francisco 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward, right, intercepts a pass intended for Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
San Francisco 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward, right, intercepts a pass intended for Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the first quarter.
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

Stafford overthrew Beckham on a deep route on the fourth play of the game, and 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward intercepted the pass. That set up a methodical 18-play touchdown drive that consumed more than 11 minutes.

On the ensuing series, a Stafford pass bounced off the hands of tight end Tyler Higbee and into the arms of Ward who returned it for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

Stafford and Higbee recovered from the miscue, and connected on a 10-yard touchdown pass that pulled the Rams to within seven points.

But the Rams never came close to launching another threat.

“Playing against a good team like that, that can control the clock, control the ball the way they can — that’s not the way you want to play those guys from behind early on,” said Stafford, who completed 26 of 41 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown, with the two interceptions.

Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris last week described 49ers tight end George Kittle and receiver Deebo Samuel as wild cards because they can be used as so-called “jokers” in the offense.

As with Rams, the 1994 San Francisco 49ers loaded up on stars and won the Super Bowl. Niners from that season explain how the Rams can make it work.

The joke was on the Rams on “Monday Night Football.”

Kittle caught five passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Samuel rushed for a touchdown in the first half, and he put the game out of reach with a 40-yard catch-and run touchdown in the fourth quarter that made the score 31-7.

Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers’ embattled quarterback, played error free. He completed 15 of 19 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, a Rams offense devoid of injured receiver Robert Woods got off to another poor start and featured multiple dropped passes.

The Rams, trailing 21-7 at halftime, opened the second half by forcing the 49ers to punt, but the Rams went three and out — giving Shanahan more opportunity to control the clock and keep the ball out of Stafford’s hands.

The 49ers added a field goal, and after two consecutive Rams possessions ended with dropped third-down passes, the 49ers put the game out of reach on Samuel’s big play.

Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Rams’ 31-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday — scoring and statistics.

Beckham finished with two catches for 18 yards. Miller had three tackles, one for a loss.

“The Niners came out and played better than us in all phases of the game,” Beckham said. “That’s just really the moral of the story…they just outplayed us.”

As he did when he joined the Rams a few weeks ago, Miller referenced how he still feels like he’s in a movie.

“Today was a bad scene but I feel like we’ll be able to fight out of this,” he said. “I feel like we’ll be able to recover from this.”

So, one goal achieved. Beckham and Miller got acclimated.

Now McVay must figure out a way to get this star-studded team back on track.


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