INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) - Brock Purdy passed for 206 yards and ran for an early touchdown, Deebo Samuel rushed for an 11-yard TD with 11:28 left and the San Francisco 49ers hung on for their ninth consecutive regular-season victory over the Los Angeles Rams, 30-23 Sunday.
Christian McCaffrey rushed for 116 yards and a score for the 49ers (2-0), whose only loss to the Rams since December 2018 was in the NFC championship game in January 2022.
Isaiah Oliver and Deommodore Lenoir intercepted passes by Matthew Stafford in the second half, finally allowing the 49ers to pull in front of their longtime rivals.
The 49ers’ defense overcame a record-setting performance by rookie Puka Nacua, who caught 15 passes for 147 yards for Los Angeles (1-1). The fifth-round pick broke the NFL’s single-game record for receptions by a rookie, and he set a new overall league mark with 25 catches in the first two games of his career.
Purdy went 17 for 25 with a handful of glaring mistakes in his first career game against the rebuilding Rams (1-1), who followed up their surprise season-opening win at Seattle by remaining competitive with their powerhouse opponent throughout the afternoon at SoFi Stadium. Purdy came through on fourth down at the Rams 1 on the final play before halftime, sneaking over the goal line to even the score 17-17.
Stafford passed for 307 yards and threw a TD pass to Kyren Williams for Los Angeles. Williams also rushed for a touchdown and had 100 combined offensive yards in his first NFL start, but he caused a key interception when a pass ricocheted off his hands in the third quarter, leading to Jake Moody’s go-ahead, 57-yard field goal.
Along with Nacua’s second spectacular game, Tutu Atwell added seven catches for 77 yards for Los Angeles as both receivers stepped up again in Cooper Kupp’s absence.
The 49ers are unbeaten after back-to-back road games to open the season, but they were tested in Inglewood. Los Angeles’ undertalented defense made several timely stops and forced San Francisco to settle for three field goals, including after both of the 49ers’ takeaways.
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 17: San Francisco 49ers fans watch the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on September 17, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
McCaffrey made a 14-yard touchdown run to cap San Francisco’s opening drive. McCaffrey then made a 50-yard run on the final play of the first quarter, but the Rams kept it even with a responding drive ending in Williams’ first TD.
Los Angeles went ahead 1:45 before halftime with an 88-yard drive ending in Williams’ TD run, but the Niners went 75 yards for Purdy’s fourth-down sneak for a 1-yard TD at the halftime gun.
Purdy missed receivers on long throws at least three times, keeping the game close and frustrating the 49ers fans in attendance. But Williams gifted an interception to Oliver in the third quarter when Stafford’s pass hit the running back in the hands and popped high in the air.
After kicking a field goal, the Niners went 74 yards for a score on their next drive, ending in Samuel’s sprint through two missed tackles.
The Rams got the ball back with 5:29 left, but Stafford’s third-down throw into traffic was picked off by Lenoir.
49ers: CB Ambry Thomas injured his knee in the first half, but returned. ... Lenoir was evaluated for a head injury and allowed to continue playing.
Rams: RG Joseph Noteboom injured his shoulder in the second half. He had been wearing a brace on the shoulder in recent weeks. ... RB Cam Akers was a healthy scratch after struggling to just 29 yards on 22 carries in the season opener. Akers was nearly traded last season after clashing with the coaching staff, only to stay when the Rams found no takers.
49ers: Home opener against the Giants on Thursday, Sept. 21.
Rams: At Bengals on Monday, Sept. 25.