Puka Nacua sets rookie record for receiving as Rams beat 49ers to wrap season at 10-7


SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams receiver Puka Nacua set the NFL rookie record for catches and yards receiving Sunday as the team wrapped the regular season with a win over the San Francisco 49ers.

The Rams, who had already clinched a playoff berth, finish the regular season at 10-7 with the 21-20 win over their division rival. The game ended as San Francisco had the ball back with less than a minute to go but backup quarterback Sam Darnold fumbled as he came under pressure and the ball was recovered by the Rams.

Los Angeles will face the Detroit Lions in the first round of the playoffs, led by former Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua sets the rookie record for receiving after catching a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Jan. 7, 2024.

AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn

Coach Sean McVay rested a number of starters to save them for the postseason, starting Carson Wentz at QB. But with Nacua trailing the all-time rookie records by only a few catches and yards, McVay kept him in just long enough to break those marks by early in the third quarter.

Nacua had four catches for 41 yards in the first 34 minutes of the game Sunday against the 49ers. That gave Nacua 105 catches and 1,486 yards on the season. That breaks the record of 104 catches set by Miami’s Jaylen Waddle in 2021 and 1,473 yards set by Bill Groman for the Houston Oilers in 1960.

Nacua tied the record for yards when he caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Wentz in the first quarter and broke both records on the opening drive of the third quarter.

He caught a 7-yard pass to break Groman’s 63-year-old record and then started to head to the sideline to end his game. But he stayed on for one more play and caught a 6-yard pass to break Waddle’s record.

It’s been a remarkable rookie season for Nacua, who developed into one of the NFL’s most productive receivers despite being drafted in the fifth round in April. He has seven games this season with at least 100 yards receiving, including three games with at least 150.

That performance has him made one of the leading contenders to win the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

The NFL playoffs start next Saturday with the Wild Card Round.

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