The 49ers will wrap up the preseason with one final game against the San Diego Chargers on a very warm Thursday night at Candlestick. After Wednesday’s practice, Singletary announced that Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree, Brian Westbrook and Vernon Davis probably will not play tonight. David Carr will most likely get the start at QB and all eyes will focus on the battles to win spots on the 49ers final 53-man roster. Pay close attention to special teams as well as Singletary hinted that the final few spots could come down to special teams play.
The college football season also starts tonight so we interviewed Taylor Mays and Isaac Sopoaga about the matchup of their alma maters, USC and Hawaii.
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The Chargers started out backed up because of a holding penalty, but the 49ers couldn’t stop the Chargers running game on 3rd and 1o as Mike Tolbert broke a 32-yard run to get out near midfield. That’s as far as SD would get however as Haralson stopped Tolbert behind the line of scrimmage to force a 3rd and long. Billy Volek, who started for the Chargers, hit Tolbert on 3rd down, but only for 7 yards. The punt rolled into the end zone for a touchback.
As Singletary indicated earlier in the week, David Carr started the game for the 49ers. Adam Snyder started for Joe Staley (knee) at left tackle. On 3rd and 6, Carr hit Morgan on the WR screen for a 15-yard gain to keep the chains moving, then found Morgan again for a gain of 10 yards and the second first down of the drive. Carr took a shot deep for Ginn against Antoine Cason and while the pass was well defensed, SD was called for illegal contact. Then from 36-yards out, Dixon showed his big play ability, cutting inside and finding a seam. Starting safety Eric Weddle had a good angle on him, but Dixon game a stiff-arm and dove for the end zone for the score.
49ers 7 – Chargers 0
The Chargers began their next drive from the 20. The Chargers converted on 3rd and 7 as Voled hit Naanee for 9 yards on an out route against Tarell Brown. Navorro Bowman and former-Charger Matt Wilhelm helped stall the drive as the rookie from Penn State dropped Tolbert for a loss on second down. Wilhelm came on the inside blitz on the very next play, sacking Volek and forcing the punt. Phillip Adams returned the punt, but fumbled as he was tackled just past midfield. Morgan picked up the loose ball and returned it to the SD 36.
The 49ers couldn’t take advantage of their good field position on the drive however. On 4th and an inch, Carr pitched the ball wide to Davis, but Larry English was right there to drop him for a loss and a turnover on downs.
The Chargers got the ball at the 33-yard line. On 3rd and 7, Volek hit Buster Davis on the slant to keep the chains moving. Volek found a leaping Davis again on the very next play for a 14-yard gain as he barley got both feet in before Paymah knocked him out of bounds.
Standout Stat: David Carr got off to a hot start this week, going 4 of 4 for 32 yards and a passer rating of 100. Two of the completions were to Morgan, one for 26 yards.
Highlight Reel: It’s an easy call fore the best “highlight” of the first quarter. That honor was earned by Anthony Dixon. The rookie showed great patience and vision as he bounced the run up the middle and eventually found the seam. Even though the safety had the angle, Dixon took the contact to Eric Weddle, giving him a stiff-arm and diving in for the score. He really seems to set up his blocks well and has showed great instincts in the preseason. As Taylor Price noted prior to the Raiders game, I think this particular run was one of those “home runs” Dixon was looking for.
Put it in Perspective: The 49ers should probably be ahead by two scores in this game as they’ve outplayed San Diego on both offense and defense. The 49ers failed to convert on 4th and inches when they pitched it wide for Dixon. Despite playing a solid opening 15 minutes, the 49ers have to feel like they missed a golden opportunity on that drive.
Quotable: Aubrayo Franklin – “I feel real good. I feel like we just picked up where we left off last year. You know, this is our fourth year playing as a unit, so we pretty much know the defense and know how each other are supposed to fit.”
Volek started the quarter with a screen pass to Curtis Brinkley for a gain of 25. Manny Lawson showed his athleticism, coming on the blitz and deflecting Volek’s pass up in the air. he wasn’t done though as he caught the deflection himself and brought it all the way back to the SD 38.
Carr came out firing on the next drive, hitting Dominique Zeigler on a deep slant for a gain of 26. On 3rd and 5, Carr floated it for Zeigler who was isolated with Cason. Zeigler reeled it in with one hand and it was ruled a touchdown. The replay showed that Zeigler only got one foot in and the call was overturned. Joe Nedney connected on a 25-yard field goal to put the 49ers on top 10-0.
49ers 10 – Chargers 0
Volek connected with Buster Davis for a 47-yard gain against the coverage of Adams down the left sideline. Taylor Mays turned things around quickly however, picking off Volek’s next pass that was floated too hight for the receiver. Mays held onto the ball while taking a hit in the end zone for a touchback.
Nate Davis takes over at QB, replacing David Carr. The 49ers picked up a first down on the drive thanks to a 7-yard run by Dixon. The rookie showed his toughness yet again with a physical 17-yard run for the 49ers 3rd first down of the drive. Alex Boone was flagged for illegal hands to the face which backed the 49ers up to midfield. The 49ers couldn’t convert on 3rd and 19 and were forced to punt. Lee did a nice job to pin them down at the 6.
Diyral Briggs was flagged for a personal foul, allowing SD to get away from their own end zone. The defense came up big on 3rd and short, reading the screen pass well and breaking up the timing. Adams returned the punt to the SF 32.
Davis hit Gillory on a WR screen right out of the gates. Alex Boone got out quickly on the play to make the initial block. The 49ers were in the two-minute offense for the rest of the drive. Davis looked for Nate Byham on 3rd down, but the rookie TE bobbled it as Brandon Siler came in to pick it off.
The 49ers did well not to give up any big plays as the Chargers went to their hurry up offense. As the first half came to a close, the 49ers held onto their 10-0 lead.
Standout Stat: Dixon already had 80 yards rushing in the first half on 12 carries. Singletary said the running game needed to improve and with Dixon averaging 6.7 yards per carry, the head coach should be pleased.
Highlight Reel: If Zeigler had both feet in bounds on what would have been a spectacular one-handed touchdown catch, he might have had the play of the quarter. Manny Lawson stole the show however as he not only pressured Volek on a blitz, but deflected the pass to himself and returned it well into Chargers territory.
Put it in Perspective: Rivers was held out of the game as were some of the Chargers’ other play makers. Nonetheless, the 49ers defense did a standout job to hold them scoreless through the first 30 minutes of the game. Volek may have thrown for 157 yards, but he was intercepted twice and has a QB rating of just46.7.
Quotable: Manny Lawson on his interception – “Man, first of all I got to give a shout out to my DBs and other linebackers for covering and allowing me time to get back there. I was just fortunate enough to, I got my hand in the way and tipped the ball and it floated in the air. All it was after that was just catching it.”
The 49ers offense struggled to get going out of the gates. An illegal hands to the face penalty gave them a first down, but Davis was sacked by Ogembi Nwagbuo on 3rd down. Lee blasted a punt and the coverage unit flew down the field for a quick tackle. Paymah forced a penalty on the play as well, backing the Chargers up to their own 16.
Former Tennessee Volunteer Jonathan Crompton took over for Volek at QB. Brinkley got the chains moving for SD with a 12-yard gain up the middle followed by 14-yarder to the right side. Bowman came up the middle on the blitz and knocked the ball away from Volek. San Diego recovered, but it was a great play by Bowman nonetheless. The 49ers forced the punt, which bounced into the end zone for a touchback.
Davis hit Caulcrick short right and the FB was able to turn upfield for a 17-yard gain out to the SF 37. On 3rd and 6, Davis hit Caulcrick in the left flat, but he was hit right away and Lee had to punt. Jeremy Williams fielded the punt at the 7-yard line and made several 49ers miss for a 93-yard touchdown.
49ers 10 – Chargers 7
Two special teams miscues in a row as the 49ers were flagged for a block in a back on the kickoff. On the first play of the drive, Davis threw for Jurovich deep along the right sideline, but the ball was behind him, allowing Fred Bennett to break on the ball and pick it off.
Tremaine Brock was flagged for pass interference as Crompton took a shot down the left sideline and SD moved out to the 34. Crompton then took a shot for Williams near the right pylon for a 26-yard gain. On the very next play, Brinkley rushed in for the 2-yard score.
Chargers 14 – 49ers 10
Cody Wallace was called for unnecessary roughness and the 49ers never got their drive going. The punt coverage was good this time as well as Balogun wrapped up Williams.
Bruce Davis and Ricky Jean Francoise did their best to get the team back on track, combining for a sack of Crompton to back SD up 10 yards. Crompton hit Brinkley on a screen for a large gain, but on 3rd and 19, it wasn’t enough and the Chargers will have to punt as the 4th quarter begins.
Standout Stat: 3 – That’s the number of missed tackles the 49ers had on Jeremy Williams’ 93-yard punt return.
Highlight Reel: Unfortunately this one goes to Williams for the punt return TD. He outran everyone and broke several tackles for the score.
Put it in Perspective: The 49ers special teams units had been playing very well up to this point in the game. The punt return really shifted the momentum in favor of the Chargers and the 49ers began to hurt their own cause with penalties. The 49ers lost the lead and will need to regain their rhythm.
Quotable: Dixon on the preseason – “It’s been a grind and I’m going to keep on grinding. I’m learning how it is to be in NFL player. I’m glad I got a chance to go through this so I know what to expect down the road. I’m kind of bruising a little bit, but I’m alright.”
Robinson replaced Dixon at running back and picked up 20 yards up the right sideline to move the 49ers out near the 40. Davis hit Byham over the middle to convert the next 3rd down, but Wallace was called for his second unnecessary roughness penalty. The 49ers still got the first down as a result of the play however. Nate Davis was pressured on 3rd and 4. He got rid of the ball, but SD was called for roughing the passer to give the 49ers the first down. The offense started to get it’s rhythm back as Davis play faked and found Jurovich crossing for a gain of 29. Davis hit Caulcrick out of the backfield three plays later for a 2-yard touchdown to put the 49ers back in front.
49ers 17 – Chargers 14
The 49ers defense stood tall on the Chargers next drive. Crompton hit Williams crossing over the middle, but Curtis Taylor made a nice play to wrap him up and force the fumble, which was recovered by Derek Walker.
Jarrett Brown is now in at QB. Caulcrick got the drive moving with 17-yard run right up the middle. Two plays later though, Caulcrick coughed up the ball and it was recovered by San Diego.
We’ll have to run down to the field for postgame interviews, but stay updated by following us on Twitter!
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