It’s getting hard to ignore the poor performances by the starters the San Francisco 49ers place on the field, as the offensive line made it extremely difficult for Colin Kaepernick to look anywhere near adequate in his short performance, while the San Diego Chargers weren’t worried about losing 21-7 considering their offense and defense looked very good with Philip Rivers on the field.
Much has been said about the 49ers being patient or deliberately slow in their negotiations with Alex Boone, the right guard, who has been holding out the preseason games. The 49ers have had to shuffle things around, and it has seemed to be a huge deal in how their offense works in every one of the preseason games, including that 34-0 drubbing by the Denver Broncos. Maybe Jim Harbaugh has mentioned things looked better, but the changes, if at all, were minuscule.
Rivers was close to flawless in his performance, throwing a touchdown pass to Antonio Gates on play after his touchdown pass to Ryan Mathews was cancelled because of a penalty flag. He completed 9-of-10 throws before making way for Kellen Clemens and Brad Sorensen. Rivers was another quarterback to take advantage of some awful secondary play, allowing Rivers and Manning to complete 21-of-24 passes against them for 187 yards and an incredible passer rating.
The offensive line was just as bad. Kaepernick was sacked once, but he took four big hits throughout his three-series appearance. One might say that the 49ers were holding back on some things due to the two teams meeting again way later this season in the same venue, but there’s holding back and there’s looking very bad. Kaepernick also fumbled the ball on that sack, as Mike Iupati continues to struggle against the pass rush.
The 49ers got back in the game on the horrible Levi’s Stadium pitch (changes made in the last minute) while the half empty stands due to the earthquake that hit the area earlier, as Blaine Gabbert, trying to keep himself some sort of NFL career going, completed a touchdown pass to Vance McDonald in the second quarter. Glenn Winston added another touchdown on the ground to finish the game. Carlos Hyde put in a good performance with 38 yards on six carries.
The Chargers were pleased with a young running back themselves as Marion Grice of Arizona State ran for 36 yards on 7 carries. Joining Mathews and Danny Woodhead, it looks like the Chargers have themselves an even better offensive arsenal to complement Philip Rivers, once again looking like a fantastic quarterback now that he has a competent offensive line. Those two words seem to be the key for the 49ers as well, but they need a whole lot of work before they feel good about what they have.