The San Francisco 49ers finish off the 2016 NFL preseason with an exhibition bout against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday, September 1. Eyes will be on quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and not just for his national anthem protest. Will he play well enough to make the 53-man roster?
The San Francisco 49ers faced off against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday, September 1 to cap off the 2016 NFL preseason.
For most teams, the fourth game of the preseason is merely a chance for bubble-watch players to get one final shot at making a roster. But, for San Francisco, this game will have a little more meaning.
Eyes were on embattled quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kap sat in protest during the national anthem during the Niners’ last preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. And he reiterated his intention to continue doing so. Kap took a knee, along with safety Eric Reid, during the song.
Preseason national anthems suddenly have a lot more attention.
But Kaepernick was also be vying for a roster spot. His poor play last season and less-than-stellar on-field debut last week means his spot is not guaranteed at all.
Fans and coaches alike wanted to see what the 49ers’ former-star QB had to offer.
Other storylines existed too. Which players, who survived the initial wave of roster cuts, would step up and solidify a spot? Who rose to the occasion? Who faltered in the last moment.
These were all major points in this contest.
Follow along with us — and be sure to comment along by scrolling down — as Niner Noise provides you with all the updates you need throughout.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers offense to start the game and immediately received a wave of boos from the San Diego crowd.
And yet Kaepernick helped lead San Francisco’s offense deep into San Diego territory and into the red zone. A dart pass to wide receiver Dres Anderson pushed the Niners to the 1-yard line, although Anderson was pelted on the catch.
Running back DuJuan Harris was able to capitalize on a one-yard touchdown run to give San Francisco the first-quarter lead.
A subsequent two-point conversion failed.
The 49ers starters on defense weren’t playing, although linebacker Aaron Lynch got first-quarter snaps.
A failed Chargers drive put San Francisco back on offense, and Kaepernick was subjected to more boos under center. But the Niners subsequent drive stalled, which forced a punt to round out the quarter.
San Francisco’s defense struggled on third down, which led to a San Diego red-zone trip. And yet a penalty pushed the Chargers back out. A late hit by 49ers cornerback Rashard Robinson put San Diego back in business.
A two-yard touchdown run by fullback Chris Swain helped put San Diego on top 7-6.
The Niners had a chance to execute a two-minute offense as they moved into Chargers territory at the 2:05 mark of the second quarter. A nice pickup by Harris ensured San Francisco converted on 4th-and-1.
Kap was nearly picked off with four seconds left in the half, which gave veteran kicker Phil Dawson a chance to take the lead. He did.
The Chargers opened up on offense to start the second half. And only a few snaps later, San Diego was right up into the Niners red zone.
San Diego retook the lead on a six-yard touchdown run by running back Kenneth Farrow.
Kaepernick’s night was over, and rookie QB Jeff Driskel took over under center for San Francisco’s offense. His first pass was picked off by the Chargers defense.
Rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson picked off a Chargers pass shortly thereafter, although his subsequent run-back attempt wasn’t so pretty.
Running back Mike Davis had a few breakaway moments. And yet Driskel ended up throwing a second interception just under the 10-minute mark of the third quarter.
The Chargers took advantage of the short field and scored yet another touchdown to increase the lead.
An aspect of the 49ers depth linebacker competition was revealed later in the quarter. Corey Lemonier and Marcus Rush were both vying for a roster spot.
And Rush answered with his fifth sack of the preseason.
Christian Ponder took over at quarterback. He was fighting for a roster spot, especially if the 49ers elect to place Driskel on the practice squad.
Ponder helped move San Francisco’s offense into San Diego territory. Tight end Blake Bell nearly hauled in a touchdown pass, but it was negated by an offensive pass-interference call.
Dawson missed a field-goal attempt shortly thereafter.
A number of the 49ers’ depth defensive players stepped up on the subsequent drive. Defensive end Ronald Blair continued to make plays, and fellow D-lineman Garrison Smith showcased some strong efforts.
San Diego’s offense moved in the wrong direction.
The 49ers moved deep into Chargers territory on the following drive. And Ponder cut down into the San Diego lead with a one-yard touchdown run right up the gut.
For another bubble-watch player to look at, just observe center Marcus Martin on the above play.
San Francisco’s defense came up big the following drive, and Rush posted another sack which resulted in a fumble recovery by the 49ers.
Ponder and the Niners did it again — a near mirror image of the quarterback’s first rushing touchdown. And a two-point conversion was successful.
Rush continued his stellar season on the subsequent play by picking off an interception well within San Diego territory.
It’s safe to assume he’ll get a roster spot.
The Niners were back in San Diego’s red zone with two minutes left in regulation.
And rookie running back Kelvin Taylor found paydirt with an end-zone score.
That proved to be the final cap on San Francisco’s effort as the 49ers wrap up their preseason and prepare themselves for cutting down the roster to 53 players.
FINAL: 49ers 31, Chargers 21
Please refresh your browser periodically throughout the game to view updates.