Last Week Niners Live broke down every angle of the game against the Minnesota Vikings. Our preseason coverage concludes as we preview game number 4 at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. We will breakdown the key offensive and defensive match-ups.
Finally, we are at the last preseason game. Sunday night’s game was a dress rehearsal for the regular season; Thursday Night’s will be more about which players will crack the 53-man roster for San Francisco 49ers — who is auditioning for a P-squad spot and who will turn in their playbooks.
49ers Offensive Line & Running Backs vs. Chargers’ Front Seven
The running game showed signs of potential, but was still stagnant on Sunday. The 49ers most successful running plays came from the right side where Trent Brown played tackle. Joe Staley was held out of action Sunday. For their part, Center Daniel Kilgore and guards Zane Beadles and Brandon Fusco held their own on Sunday and look to continue against a very underrated Los Angeles front seven; highlighted by studs Melvin Ingram at the LEO position and defensive end Joey Bosa. Nose tackle Brandon Mebane and Defensive Tackle Corey Liuget are the team’s run stoppers.
Latest transactions: Vance McDonald was recently traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The rest of the Chargers linebackers are a solid group. Playing the Otto linebacking position is Kyle Emanuel, the middle is patrolled by Korey Toomer at the Mike spot, while the Will linebacker is Jatavis Brown. Denzel Perryman will miss the first few weeks of the season due to an ankle injury (per Chargers.com). It appears that Carlos Hyde, Matt Breida and Joe Williams have locked up running back positions. With the break out performance of Raheem Mostert on Sunday, who can also play special teams, Tim Hightower is in danger being cut from the team.
49ers Quarterbacks vs. Joey Bosa & Melvin Ingram
We finally got to see what Brian Hoyer could do when given protection as seen in this video of his touchdown pass to Carlos Hyde. Except for a few overthrown passes, he basically had his way, with one of the quickest releases in the NFL. Forty-niners Head Coach Kyle Shanahan will be careful and not risk injury to his starting quarterback so close to the regular season opener, which means C.J. Beathard, Matt Barkley and Nick Mullens should see significant time behind the center. Melvin Ingram was one of the most sought after free agents this offseason and was second on the team with 8 sacks last year. Joey Bosa led the Chargers with 10.5 sacks in his rookie season. The duo showed how deadly a combination they could be in this video.
49ers: WRS & TEs vs. Chargers Secondary
Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin could face a Chargers’ secondary led by Pro Bowlers Jason Verrett, who returned to action for the first time since October of last season with an interception against the Los Angeles Rams in this video, and Casey Hayward. Jahleel Addae, aka “The Predator”, safeties in the NFL, is the Box Safety, while Dwight Lowery occupies the free safety position. Look for receivers Jeremy Kerley, Trent Taylor and Aldrick Robinson to get increased time with the first unit this game. There is a debate as to whether the 49ers will add a 4th tight end or a sixth receiver spot, so look for Victor Bolden, DeAndre Smelter, Louis Murphy, Kendrick Bourne, Cole Hitukini, Blake Bell and Garrett Celek to try to make a case for a roster spot.
49ers Front Seven vs. Chargers RB’s and Offensive Line
49ers Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh had to enjoy how his first unit performed Sunday Night and they look to build on that impressive showing against the Chargers. Reuben “Ferrari” Foster served notice to the NFL in this video that he’s ready to dominate. Now that the SAM position has been won by Eli Harold it looks like most of the starting unit is intact. There is a log jam for backup roles in the front four, ready for a long look Thursday and eager to make the squad. Among those looking to make the team are recent pickups: Sen’Derick Marks, Leger Douzable; D.J. Jones, Pita Taumoepenu and Noble Nwachukwu.
49ers Pass Rush vs. Chargers QB’s
There is no doubt that Philip Rivers is the starting Quarterback. Kellen Clemens’ backup spot appears safe. Cardale Jones is expected to get a very long look as he attempts to make the team as the number 3 quarterback. Look for a battle for the third LEO spot as Aaron Lynch had a less than stellar performance against the Vikings and could be challenged by Ronald Blair to make the team.
49ers Secondary vs. Chargers WR’s & Tight Ends
Los Angeles is set at tight end position with All-Pro Antonio Gates. Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen suffered a rare kidney condition which sidelined him last season and was coming back from a season ending knee injury in 2015 (via Chargers.com). Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin also look to see action. Jimmie Ward re-emerged as the 49ers Free Safety last week and Eric Reid continues to relish the role of Box Safety. Expect for Rashard Robinson to see playing time as well as Dontae Johnson at the cornerback positions. Ahkello Witherspoon, Lorenzo Jerome, Jaquiski Tartt and Keith Reaser will look to get increased playing time on Thursday. It will be the last chance for Asa Jackson, Will Davis, Vinnie Sunseri and Don Jones to make a good impression.
Storylines: Connections between the 49ers vs. Chargers
This will be the first matchup between rookie Head Coaches Kyle Shanahan and Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn, who also played for the 49ers during the 1995 and 1996 seasons. Last season, Lynn was the Offensive Coordinator for the Buffalo Bills where he coached current 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin. Kyle Shanahan was the offensive Coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2014, where he coached current Chargers receiver Travis Benjamin. Kyle, of course, was the Atlanta Falcons Offensive Coordinator during the 2015 and 2016 season and one of his comrades was current Chargers Linebackers Coach Robert Smith, who also coached with current 49ers Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh in 2005 with the Houston Texans.
Don’t look for too many starters on either side to play very much as both staffs look to avoid the risk of injuries. What you can look forward to is a high-spirited game, filled with players looking to continue their dream of playing in the NFL, whether as a member of the 53-man squad, a p-squad member, or one of the first calls made when an injury occurs. The excitement is building as we are less than 2 weeks away from the first game of the 2017 season against the Carolina Panthers.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author and new Staff Writer @NinersLive.net, David Edmondson. Content Creator, Editor, Sequoia Sims