Instead, it was the preamble to 57 yards of Deebo Samuel brilliance.
The 49ers wideout skied up for Garoppolo's throw before weaving and rumbling through would-be Rams tacklers on his way to a second-quarter touchdown that set the tone for a 24-9 San Francisco win over rival Los Angeles on Monday night.
"It was impressive," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game. "At first it looked like a pick. It was close, that corner was teeing off on it. We had to wait a little bit cause the guy inside, they ran into each other. We had to hesitate just a hair and Deebo to come down with that throw, then he did the rest. When you get the ball in his hands, I think he's shown he does some pretty cool things."
Samuel, who finished the night with six catches for 115 yards and the TD, has become a highlight waiting to happen.
Samuel expects to make big plays.
"Every time I get a chance to get the ball in my hands," Samuel said, "that's just my mentality of trying to make it a big play, but it's just second nature to me right now."
His quarterback expects him to make them.
"You almost know Deebo's gonna have one or two of those in a game," Garoppolo said.
And by this point, the Rams likely expect him to make them, as well.
"Every time he touches the ball, I feel like all of us on the sideline, we're just kind of holding our breath, we're waiting for him to bust one open and score one," San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner said. "There's something about Deebo against those Rams. Just a heckuva player and in big-time games he always comes to play."
This was Samuel's biggest game of the season so far and came at a much-needed time as the Niners were coming off a sleep-inducing 11-10 loss to the Denver Broncos. Though most teams likely wouldn't be poised to return to form against the reigning Super Bowl champions, the 49ers' success -- and Samuel's along with it -- against the Rams has almost become clockwork in the regular season.
San Francisco won its seventh regular-season game in a row against Los Angeles, and Samuel has been part of each of those, having never tasted defeat to the Rams in the regular season. He's scored six TDs in those seven games. The one glaring exception of course is last season's NFC Championship Game win by the Rams against the Niners, though Samuel was still a factor with 98 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.
For the most part, though, Samuel has been phenomenal at the Rams' expense.
That was again the case on Monday night.
Clinging to a 7-6 lead, the Niners were facing third-and-3 on their 43-yard line when Garoppolo targeted Samuel.
Samuel's catch was spectacular enough as he went airborne to the left side of the hash and brought down the high throw.
"The dude just missed the ball and my mentality is it's just me and the ball out there," Samuel said. "Whatever happened after that is just something that I work on all the time and I just got in the box."
Then came the yards after the catch that have set Samuel apart as a dynamic presence in the league.
He immediately juked through an arm tackle from one Rams defender to the left before juking another out of his cleats back inside to the right 10 yards later.
"Just going out there and breaking tackles is something I do all the time," Samuel said.
Turning on the afterburners, Samuel hit full speed up the middle of the field before setting his sights on All-Pro Jalen Ramsey. One on one with Samuel, Ramsey was barely a speed bump for the 49ers' whirling dervish. As Ramsey went low and locked on to Samuel's left tree trunk of a leg, the Niners all-star broke free to the outside, gliding into the end zone as teammate Brandon Aiyuk put one last Rams defender on the ground with a block at the goal line.
"Yeah, I don't know what he was doing out there," Samuel said of Ramsey. "I just went right by him. He was just back-pedaling, I was like, 'What's going on?'"
After tossing the touchdown ball into the crowd, Samuel was congratulated by teammates and appropriately flexed his right arm.
It was a 57-yard flex of horsepower, a perfect example of speed and strength that has made the wideback so special.
There was a reason Shanahan didn't want to entertain trading away his All-Pro talent during a contentious offseason. Those reasons were loud and clear on Monday night.
"It's just the vision," Samuel told NFL Network's Taylor Bisciotti after the game. "I think I see the field pretty well and just go out there and break tackles and just do what I do."