The location was Inglewood, California: 350 miles south from where the San Francisco 49ers play. A sea of blue and gold was expected to surround the red and gold on the SoFi Stadium field.
There were loud chants of “Whose house? Rams House!” reverberating throughout the venue and creeping into the ear drums of the 49ers — with fans clad in horns and Los Angeles Ram fans using their vocal chords to faze the 49ers. But no 49er — not even Deebo Samuel — were shown to be rattled by the noise levels of the 74,447 who sat inside the venue.
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Samuel went off for 140 total yards of offense, crossed the end zone once on a rushing score and even threw one touchdown pass as his 49ers punched their ticket into the NFC playoffs with the thrilling 27-24 road win on Sunday, January 9 inside the deafening venue.
But how could a stadium that loud not shake the mental state of Samuel and the 49ers? Samuel described what he believed the “Rams House” really felt like.
Samuel Disses the ‘Rams House’
Samuel called it how he saw it: Sunday felt more like a home game for the visiting team…even with being more than five hours driving distance from home.
Why? He saw more red and white than those representing the “Rams House.”
“I feel like the Rams pump noise because there wasn’t that many Rams fans there,” Samuel said via ESPN 49ers reporter Nick Wagoner.
The third-year wide receiver provided the much-needed spark for his team and the ‘Niner fans who traveled to the game in the beginning of the second half.
Samuel’s Versatility Sparked 49ers’ Rally
With the 49ers taking the football to open the third quarter down 17-3, they made sure to take advantage. And they turned to the man who has given them their best big plays as a receiver and runner.
Except Samuel struck first by land, seen below on the 16-yard run where he bursts through the opening set up by a pull block from George Kittle:
But on the subsequent possession for the 49ers, and during a time when Jimmy Garoppolo was struggling to get anything aerial-wise going, Samuel showed he was capable of being QB1 — or WRBQB1 as ESPN referred to him as.
According to Next Gen Stats, Samuel lined up in the backfield on 11 plays. And he found a way into the end zone through his legs and arm while lined up back there.
Even with Ram fans inside the crystalized venue in the “City of Champions,” Samuel and the 49ers clearly fed off of the crowd energy inside. Meanwhile, the home team’s signal caller made a shocking admission.
Matthew Stafford Explains Communication Lapses on Offense
Rams starting quarterback Matthew Stafford may have had a solid afternoon of 238 yards, two touchdowns and completing 21-of-32 passes while also winning his first career division title. But the 33-year-old quarterback certainly confused others with this quote about his own home stadium.
“It was a tough environment for us to communicate in, really the entire second half,” Stafford told reporters after the game.
And yet, this was inside the “Rams House” where Stafford pointed out the communication deficiencies. Not Levi’s Stadium.
But still, Samuel and the 49ers fed off the energy inside what became, what they felt, a closet home game for the now No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs. And Samuel wasn’t alone in feeling like SoFi was more like Levi’s. So did 49ers general manager John Lynch.