49ers receiver Deebo Samuel picks up yards in front of the Rams defense after a reception in the 4th quarter at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood Sunday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

49ers receiver Deebo Samuel picks up yards in front of the Rams defense after a reception in the 4th quarter at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood Sunday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

Rams can’t stop 49ers’ Deebo Samuel from catching defense off guard

Emmanuel Morgan

Los Angeles Times

Perhaps the Rams didn’t watch enough film.

Maybe they did, but the task was still difficult.

Regardless of the reason, the result stands — the Rams couldn’t contain San Francisco 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel when it mattered.

More than a month after the second-year receiver played a key role in a San Francisco victory in the first matchup, Samuel again tore through the Rams’ defense and collected 11 catches for 133 yards on 13 targets in a 23-20 win over the Rams at SoFi Stadium.

This time, he did it with a backup quarterback, and accounted for more than half of Nick Mullens’ 252 passing yards. Coach Kyle Shanahan said he takes a “soft-compliment” approach with Samuel, saying it’s better not to overinflate his ego.

But outwardly, he gave the receiver a lot of praise.

“He’s one of the best football players I’ve ever been around,” Shanahan said. “It doesn’t matter how good it is or how good it looks; he’s going to get it done.”

In a game where both teams leaned on stout defenses, which caused seven collective turnovers, the 49ers’ offense relied on Samuel to produce.

It was Samuel’s first game back after missing three with a hamstring injury. After Mullens had a pass intercepted on the first drive, the 49ers’ offense hit Samuel on chunk plays for 33 and 26 yards, which set up San Francisco’s first touchdown.

The early production mimicked San Francisco’s game plan from Week 6 against the Rams at Levi’s Stadium. On the second play of that game, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed a toss play to Samuel, who ran for 35 yards after the Rams’ defense thought he had been touched down.

It had set the tone for the 24-16 home victory, in which Samuel posted 66 receiving yards and a touchdown.Afterward, he took a shot on social media at Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald, who didn’t recognize Samuel’s name during the postgame news conference. Donald later clarified that he only knew Samuel by his jersey number.

McVay said Sunday that Samuel presented problems similar to the first matchup.

“He’s got great contact balance, he makes tough catches in traffic and when they utilize him as a runner … that’s a guy that can really serve [not only] as a good receiver, but as a guy that can be a good threat as a runner, McVay said. “He’s a strong player and he’s a guy that’s made big plays for them since when he got in as a rookie last year.”

San Francisco again turned to Samuel in the second half.

In the third quarter, Mullens connected with Samuel for 26 yards, another chunk play that contributed to a drive that ended in a field goal. Samuel caught the ball on the stop route against zone coverage, then ran through arm-tackle attempts by defensive backs Darious Williams and Jordan Fuller, only to be pushed out of bounds by Troy Hill.

Running back Raheem Mostert said Samuel’s physicality provided a spark.

“We’re happy to have him back,” Mostert said. “He did a great job for us.”

With the game tied at 20 with about two minutes left, San Francisco predictably targeted Samuel on the final drive. The Rams still couldn’t stop it.

Backed up on the 28-yard line, Mullens passed to Samuel, who beat Williams’ man coverage on an inside release and ran 24 yards to set up the offense near midfield. Then the duo connected on a seven-yard screen and a four-yard slant to put the visitors in range for Robbie Gould’s 42-yard walk-off field goal.

“That’s all we were trying to do there, just throw a quick one to Deebo,” Shanahan said. “And he came through every single time.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Bay Area NewsfootballNFLsan francisco news

Just Posted

The fate of San Francisco nicotine giant Juul remains to be seen, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing whether to allow certain flavored vape products on the market. <ins>(Jeenah Moon/New York Times)</ins>
How the vape king of teen nicotine addiction rose and fell in San Francisco

‘Hey, Juul, don’t let the door hit you on the way out’

Cabernet sauvignon grapes sat in a container after being crushed at Smith-Madrone Winery in St. Helena. (Courtesy Smith-Madrone Winery)
San Francisco’s ‘Champagne problems’ — Wine industry suffers supply chain woes

‘Everywhere you turn, things that were easy are no longer easy’

Glasses behind the bar at LUNA in the Mission District on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Glassware is just one of the many things restaurants have had trouble keeping in stock as supply chain problems ripple outward. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF restaurants face product shortages and skyrocketing costs

‘The supply chain crisis has impacted us in almost every way imaginable’

A Giants fans hangs his head in disbelief after the Dodgers won the NLDS in a controversial finish to a tight Game 5. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Giants dream season ends at the hands of the Dodgers, 2-1

A masterful game comes down to the bottom of the ninth, and San Francisco came up short

<strong>Workers with Urban Alchemy and the Downtown Streets Team clean at Seventh and Market streets on Oct. 12. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins> </strong>
<ins></ins>
Why is it so hard to keep San Francisco’s streets clean?

Some blame bureaucracy, others say it’s the residents’ fault

Most Read