The Rams got flattened 24-9 by the 49ers on Monday Night Football, but at least LA linebacker Bobby Wagner was able to dish out a little punishment of his own when he tackled an animal rights protester who ran onto the field at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco.
Wielding a pink flare and a shirt advertising the Bay Area animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, the male protester got past security and ran onto the field while there was a break in the action during the second quarter. As the individual approached the LA sideline, Rams defensive end Takkarist McKinley and Wagner, an eight-time Pro Bowler, sized him up before they both made contact with the man, sending him to the ground and drawing an audible “Ooh” from the crowd. A second protester from Direct Action Everywhere had previously attempted to get on the field earlier in the game but she was corralled by security and carried off the field in the first quarter.
Though the incident and Wagner’s tackle were not shown on the regular MNF telecast, Peyton and Eli Manning were able to convince the producers of their alternate broadcast to air the clip as it began to go viral on social media. “Yes. Yes. That’s what we’re talking about,” the elder Manning said reacting to Wagner’s hit. “Wagner, a veteran linebacker. Get him down. Now, get out, and let these guys take over.”
“I just saw someone running on the field,” Wagner said afterward. “It looked like he wasn’t supposed to be on the field so I saw security was having a problem so I helped them out.”
Wagner’s hit may have been the highlight of the night for the Rams as the defending Super Bowl champs were steamrolled by the team they sent home last season with a victory in the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers avenged that loss and then some with their seventh straight regular-season win against their NFC West rivals.
As quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo referenced after the game, January’s defeat was fuel for the 49ers’ collective fire. “Just watching the film of that game, it’s silent, but you feel the emotions,” Garoppolo said. “You can take yourself back to that spot and put yourself in that emotional state you were in. And I think that’s good for competitors. I really do.”
For the winners, the highlight of the night was probably a rampaging run by Deebo Samuel that turned a short gain on a pass from Garoppolo into an electric 57-yard touchdown that not even Wagner could do anything about.
“It was just me and the ball out there,” Samuel, who has scored seven TDs and thrown another touchdown in eight career games against Los Angeles, said. “I just go out and break some tackles like I do all the time.”
It’s too bad for the protester that he couldn’t do the same.