NFL: Rams far from Super Bowl worthy in 31-10 loss to 49ers

NFL Rams far from Super Bowl worthy in 31 10 loss

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.

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.

The 49ers’ Deebo Samuel runs past Rams cornerback Robert Rochell for a first-half touchdown.

(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

That investment in talent might still pay off.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, a Rams offense devoid of injured receiver Robert Woods dropped multiple passes.

Stafford completed 26 of 41 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown, with the two interceptions.

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.

Any real chance of a Rams comeback ended when Stafford’s fourth down pass from the 49ers’ 12-yard line sailed through the end zone with six minutes left.

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

So, one goal achieved. They got acclimated.

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

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