Deebo and the defense dominate in 49ers 24-9 win over the Rams on Monday Night Football

San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga celebrates his interception for a touchdown at Levi’s Stadium on Monday OCT 3, 2022. (San Francisco 49ers)

by Marko Ukalovic

Death, taxes and the San Francisco 49ers dominating the Los Angeles Rams.

The combination of Deebo Samuel and a relentless defensive effort allowed the Niners to cruise to a 24-9 victory over their NFC Western Division rival on Monday evening at Levi’s Stadium. San Francisco is 7-0 in its last seven regular season against Los Angeles.

For the second time in three games, San Francisco’s stout defense did not allow an offensive touchdown. This time it was the high powered offense that is the Rams. The defenese did not allow a play over 20 yards as they dominated the trenches and made Los Angeles’ offense one dimensional for 60 minutes.

“We knew it would be a battle to keep them (Rams) out of the end zone, it was great. Our special teams played well. It was really cool to see cause I thought we had a chance to run away with it. So it was cool to not play perfect, but to overcome a lot of things and have a big victory,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said.

Los Angeles (2-2) opened the game with a methodical 14 play 54-yard drive with a series of short passes, screens and check downs over the middle that resulted in a Matt Gay 39-yard field goal. The drive chewed up over eight minutes on the clock.

San Francisco (2-2) answered back on its first offensive possession. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers down the field on a eight play 75 yard drive where he completed four of his five passes for 45 yards. Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. finished off the drive when he run untouched for a 32-yard rushing touchdown.

After another Gay field goal, San Francisco extended its lead with under three minutes left in the second quarter. On a third and three at their own 43 yard line, Garoppolo fired a high ball just beyond the outstretched reach of Derion Kendrick into the hands of Samuel. The hybrid wide receiver turned a short catch into a 57-yard highlight reel touchdown reception as he broke two tackles and juked out another would be tackler in the process on his way to the end zone for a 14-6 lead.

“Every time I get the ball in my hands it’s my mentality in trying to make a big play, but it’s just second nature to me right now,” said Samuel.

Samuel had his best game as a wide receiver of the season. He led the 49ers in receiving with six catches for 115 yards and one touchdown.

Los Angeles tried to change the momentum to start the second half when they forced the a three and out on San Francisco’s first drive to start the third quarter. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford once again led a long drive down the field and once again the 49ers defense kept the Rams out of the end zone as Gay kicked his third field goal, a 26 yarder, to complete a 16 play 75 yard drive that ate 7:43 off the clock.

“The story of the night on the offensive side of the ball was self inflicted wounds, above the neck errors where we’re not doing the things that we’re capable of and I expect us to be better than that,” said Rams head coach Sean McVay.

San Francisco’s defense sealed the deal late in the fourth quarter with a game clinching pick six. Talanoa Hufanga read a wide receiver screen intended for star wide receiver Cooper Kupp and intercepted Stafford, returning the ball 52 yards to pay dirt. It was Hufanga’s team leading second interception as he has become a clutch player on this already talented 49ers defense in his sophomore season.

“They’ve been running screens all night. I kinda saw a different release than I’m used to. Instead of following my man, I just turned my head and the ball kinda just dropped in my face. I ain’t gonna lie. I thought (Matthew) Stafford was going to catch me,” Hufanga said.

San Francisco’s defense sacked Stafford seven times with Nick Bosa and Samson Ekubam both had two apiece. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw had an impressive game with 12 solo tackles, including one for a loss.

Garoppolo, who is now 7-0 against the Rams, finished 16 of 27 for 237 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a QB rating of 100.7. Wilson Jr. had a productive game with 74 yards on 18 carries.

“We’ve had some dog fights against these guys,” Garoppolo said when asked about the team’s success against the Rams. “That’s a good football team, give them credit. That’s a hellava D-line and our guys stood up to them and I thought they played really well.”

Kupp, who was the only offensive bright spot for the Rams, rewarded his fantasy football owners as he led all receivers with 14 catches for 122 yards. Stafford, who is 1-6 in his career against the 49ers, finished 32 of 48 for 254 yards with no touchdowns and the pick six.

GAME NOTES: San Francisco finished 5-for-12 on third down conversions. Los Angeles was 5-for-15.

DT Javon Kinlaw (knee) WR Danny Gray (hip) S Tarvarius Moore (hamstring) LT Trent Williams (ankle) RB Ty Davis-Price (ankle) TE Tyler Kroft (knee) OL Nick Zakelj (coach’s decision) were inactive for San Francisco.

UP NEXT: San Francisco take on the Carolina Panthers on Sunday 10/9 at 1:05pm at Bank of America Stadium.

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