Rams-49ers takeaways: It appears Cam Akers won’t be coming back this time

Rams head coach Sean McVay stares at the scoreboard after a failed fourth-down play against the 49ers.
Rams coach Sean McVay stares at the scoreboard after a failed fourth-down play against the 49ers. Inactive running back Cam Akers was not part of the coach’s play-call sheet Sunday.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The Rams lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 30-23, on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

What we learned from the defeat, which dropped the Rams’ record to 1-1.


Running back Cam Akers’ situation once again an issue

Rams running back Cam Akers scores a touchdown against the Seahawks on September 10.
Despite behing healthy, Cam Akers was not active for the Rams game against the 49ers.
(Lindsey Wasson / Associated Press)


For a team desperately wanting to leave the problems of its 2022 season behind, the Rams are running it back with Akers.

Akers and coach Sean McVay were at odds last season, a situation that caused McVay to publicly call out Akers and then exile him for several games. The Rams found no trade partners, reinstated Akers and he rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last three games.

Everything seemed fine during offseason workouts and training camp — until it apparently devolved again after the season-opening victory over the Seattle Seahawks, a game in which Akers carried the ball 22 times for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Akers was inactive and absent Sunday, and he posted on social media that he was as confused as anyone. McVay claimed he and Akers have had great dialogue.


Rams running back Cam Akers is inactive for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, raising questions once again about his future with the team.

Sept. 17, 2023

McVay has said that he learned a lot from all that happened with the Rams last season. Akers has said the same about his situation.


But with McVay saying this would not be a “back-and-forth” situation, it sounds as if they might soon learn to live apart.


Kyren Williams does not shy from seizing opportunity

Rams running back Kyren Williams (23) breaks free from the grasp of 49ers linebacker Fred Warner (54).
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Williams followed up his two-touchdown performance against the Seahawks with two more against the 49ers.

The second-year pro was informed on Friday night that he would start in Akers’ place, and he did not blink.

Williams scored on a short touchdown pass and also rushed for a touchdown.

If Williams remains the starter, Ronnie Rivers, Royce Freeman and Zach Evans will compete to be his backup.


Receiver Puka Nacua really is not your average rookie

Puka Nacua tries to fend off 49ers cornerback Deommodore Lenoir after the Rams receiver made a catch.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

After his 10-catch performance against the Seahawks, Nacua did not warrant an italicized word in the headline for emphasis.

He does now.

The fifth-round draft pick from BYU was targeted 18 times against the 49ers, and he caught 15 passes for 147 yards. It was the most catches by a rookie in NFL history, breaking the mark of 14 that was shared by former Washington running back Roy Helu, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and Pittsburgh running back Najee Harris.

Nacua also is the first rookie to have more than 10 receptions in each of his first two games.


Matthew Stafford is not infallible

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) looks to make a short pass to running back Kyren Williams (23).
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) looks to make a short pass to running back Kyren Williams (23).
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)


Don’t blame Stafford for his third-quarter interception.

The Rams quarterback perfectly placed a pass for Williams, who said he took his eye off the ball before it hit him in the helmet and bounced into the arms of a 49ers defensive back.

But Stafford, a 15th-year pro, erred in the fourth quarter and had another pass picked off.

In two games, Stafford has passed for one touchdown, with two interceptions.


The offensive line has protected Stafford

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is sacked by 49ers linebacker Fred Warner.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is sacked by 49ers linebacker Fred Warner (54).
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Keeping Stafford upright is perhaps the biggest key for the Rams.

After not giving up a sack against the Seahawks, the line allowed 49ers linebacker Fred Warner to get to Stafford.

But it happened only once in 55 passing attempts.

End Nick Bosa and Co. hit Stafford five other times. But Stafford usually got off a pass or scrambled out of trouble.


Starting right guard Joe Noteboom suffered a shoulder injury early in the second half and was replaced by Tremayne Anchrum Jr.


Aaron Donald got shut out

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy falls on a fumble as the Rams' Aaron Donald pursues.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

For the first time since 2020, and only the third time in his career, Aaron Donald did not make a tackle or assist on one.

Donald, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year, was credited with one hit on 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy.

This is the first season that Donald is playing without an experienced wingman such as Michael Brockers or A’Shawn Robinson.


Byron Young quickly making an impact

Young, a rookie edge rusher, was credited with the Rams’ only sack.

That gives Young, a third-round draft pick from Tennessee, 1½ sacks.

Against the Seahawks, Young shared a sack with rookie tackle Kobie Turner. His play helped set the stage for Donald and Michael Hoecht to share a sack on the next play.

Turner also was instrumental on Sunday, helping to flush Purdy out of the pocket so Young could make the sack.


Punter Ethan Evans goes long

Evans, a rookie, averaged 54 yards for two punts, including one that traveled 72 yards.

Evans also kicked off five times and all resulted in touchbacks.

Evans is the holder for kicker Brett Maher, who made field goals from 43, 48 and 38 yards.