The Los Angeles Rams entered Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Monday, November 15 like a Lamborghini with a full tank of gas courtesy of the two new additions Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. adding to the fuel.
Instead, they were met and crushed by a full speed 18-wheeler in the form of the San Francisco 49ers.
The Rams were the flashy team that plays fast. The 49ers were the physical one that chose violence over speed. The visitors entered with buzz for the Rams debut of the outside linebacker who once won Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honors nearly five years ago at the same venue and the purple-haired three-time Pro Bowl wideout ready to run routes. The 49ers, though, were in buzz kill mode before the game.
And a home team that was yet to win inside their venue in California’s Silicon Valley looked more like the team that pounded opponents in 2019 on their way to the NFC title.
The 31-10 pummeling of the Rams now drops L.A. to 7-3 and hands the franchise their first losing streak of 2021. That Lamborghini-style offensive approach? It’ll need some repairs in their personal auto shop after the smashing the 49ers handed.
Sean McVay went from smiling and giving away Beckham’s surprise addition on Thursday to declaring the MNF game a humbling experience.
But that wasn’t the only statement from McVay. He sent this promise to the “Rams House:”
“We’ll look inwardly. We’re going to figure this thing out and we’re going to come back freaking swinging,” McVay told the reporters in the same room with him. “I can promise you that these last seven games of the season.”
What’s Gone Wrong?
In the last two weeks, the Rams have faced teams that are built from the trenches on out and emphasize the run.
Tennessee, minus 2,000-yard threat Derrick Henry, ran the ball 26 times. While they only mustered 69 ground yards, they scored half of their touchdowns by land in the 28-16 win.
The 49ers went with a similar approach: Trust the run and open lanes through the ground game. On 44 plays, the 49ers decided to pitch or hand the ball off.
The end result? The Rams allowing 156 rushing yards as the ‘Niners turned to the power game. The home team, now 4-5 and back in the NFC wildcard playoff picture, forced more diving attempts than a swimmer and got the Rams bouncing off of ball carriers — making them pay for bad pad level.
Defensively for the 49ers, that fast Rams offense slowed down like a car traveling through an Interstate 580 traffic jam. Only one touchdown and not one play that racked up 35 yards from scrimmage. And, there was two early interceptions — both snatched by vocal rival Jimmie Ward.
Plus this takeaway on the subsequent next defensive series:
How Do the Rams Move Forward?
The trenches have been battered. The offense is suddenly stagnant with a combined 26 points in the last two games. McVay said this is not Rams football.
“We’re not playing complimentary football,” McVay said. “That’s something we have to look at and play better as a team. That’s why we’ve had the results we’ve had the last couple of weeks.”
McVay and the Rams plan to look at and clean up the mistakes that have been made in consecutive weeks.
“We’re going to look at ourselves — what can we do better within the framework of our roles? And then let’s move forward with a resilient mindset mentality. That’s exactly what we’ll do,” McVay said.
The Rams were the battered vehicle going top speed before running into the Titans and 49ers. But McVay is a believer that these last two weeks in no way reflects the Rams’ identity.
“I choose to believe that these last couple weeks are not who we are,” McVay said. “I refuse to believe that.”