INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams looked like they would finally find a way to defeat the San Francisco 49ers the regular season, before ultimately 30-23 at SoFi Stadium on Sunday. It was their ninth straight loss to their division rivals in the regular season.
It was a tale of two halves for the Rams. In the first half, Los Angeles was able to convert each possession into points with two touchdowns and a field goal to take a 17-10 lead late in the second quarter. At halftime, the game was tied up at 17 a piece after Brock Purdy scored right before the break. The momentum shifted in the third quarter in favor of the 49ers, when Matthew Stafford was picked off by Isaiah Oliver on a pass intended for Kyren Williams. Stafford passed for 307 yards and a touchdown but his two second half interceptions proved to be the difference late in the game.
Here are the main takeaways from Sunday’s contest:
Puka Nacua set the NFL’s single-game rookie record
There was an aura of optimism from the Rams’ youthful locker room following the loss, which could be attributed in large part to rookie Puka Nacua’s performance through two games. With Rams’ star wideout Cooper Kupp sidelined due to a hamstring injury, Nacua is operating as the No. 1 receiver out of the slot.
“He’s a stud,” Rams coach Sean McVay stated. “The game makes sense to him. Physically and mentally tough. Works really hard. He’s very inquisitive. He asks a lot of questions, and he’s got great guys to be able to lean on.”
During the week leading up to this matchup, Nacua missed practice due to an oblique injury. However, that did not seem to slow him down at all once the bright lights turned on. He broke the NFL’s single-game rookie record for catches in a game with 15. With his 10th catch in Sunday’s game, Nacua surpassed Earl Cooper’s record (19) for most receptions by a player through two games. He also became the first player to record 10 receptions and 100 receiving yards through his first two NFL games.
Cam Akers’ future with the Rams is uncertain
It was announced before the Rams’ took the field that Cam Akers would be a healthy scratch making him inactive in Week 2. McVay shared that it was a “coach’s decision”, which called into question whether the Rams’ are planning to trade the former second-round pick.
“[I] felt like that was best for our football team,” McVay commented. “I’m always going to make decisions that I think are in the best interest of our football team,” McVay continued. “I have tremendous respect for Cam Akers, but I felt like for our football team today and in this game and as we move forward, that was going to be the best decision for us.”
Akers struggled in the season opener versus the Seattle Seahawks as he notched just 29 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. He is in the final season of his rookie contract.
McVay left the conversation open stating, “We’ll see what happens over the next couple of days.”
Kyren Williams comes up big in his first NFL start
Kyren Williams started in place of Akers and had a dominant first half recording the first two touchdowns for the Rams. Williams told reporters that McVay gave him the news that he would get the start at the hotel on Saturday night.
“Me and Cam, we were close [in] his time here,” Williams said. “I’m hoping he goes somewhere that he can excel and do what he does best. Because Cam is a great football player, but even a better person. So good luck to Cam.”
Williams finished with 14 rushes for 52 yards, six receptions on 10 targets, and two touchdowns in his first NFL start. In the Rams’ win over the Seahawks, he recorded two touchdowns bringing his total to four scores in the team’s first two games. He has emerged as the Rams’ No. 1 option in the backfield.
In what was predicted to be a season where the Rams would not win many games, the team has proven to be much more competitive through two games. The Rams’ record dropped to 1-1 on the season with some optimism. The team will look to rebound with a Monday night showdown against the Cincinnati Bengals, which will be a rematch of Super Bowl LVI.