Chargers vs. 49ers: San Francisco comeback thwarted by last-second field goal

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In Week 4 of the 2018 NFL Preseason, the San Francisco 49ers fell to the Los Angeles Chargers, 23-21. Niner Noise has your full game recap, including highlights, scores and analysis.

The San Francisco 49ers’ final matchup of the preseason — a 23-21 loss to the visiting Los Angeles Chargers — looked every bit like a Week 4 preseason game.

San Francisco’s offense was led by quarterbacks Nick Mullens and Jack Heneghan, after backup QB C.J. Beathard played just three snaps without attempting a pass.

However, the 49ers’ starting defense surprisingly included a number of key starters, including defensive end Solomon Thomas, and star linebacker Reuben Foster, who played into the second quarter despite sustaining a concussion just five days ago.

The Chargers’ backup offensive unit was no match for San Francisco’s starting defensive line — particularly Thomas and fellow defensive end Ronald Blair. However, quarterback Geno Smith used his legs to extend the opening drive, which ended in a field goal for the Chargers:

Neither offense was able to move the ball over the next six series, until Chargers defensive end Chris Landrum came unblocked off the edge, forcing a sack and fumble by Mullens, deep in San Francisco territory. However, the 49ers’ defense held tight, holding Los Angeles to another three points:

San Francisco’s offense came to life on the following series. Mullens led the team on a 12-play drive that culminated in a touchdown run by the Niners’ third-string quarterback, thanks to a key block by tight end Ross Dwelley, who played well throughout the game:

The Chargers answered the Niners’ score with a 10-play drive of their own. With neither team making use of their timeouts, Los Angeles gave themselves a single play to score a last second-touchdown as time expired. Running back Terrell Watson did just that, which put the Chargers up by six as the whistle was blown to end the first half:

Another San Francisco fumble — this time by running back Jeremy McNichols — set the Chargers up in the red zone to start the second half. Los Angeles took to the air, and confusion in the 49ers’ secondary allowed an easy touchdown reception by wide receiver Andre Patton:

Two drives later, the 49ers pushed the ball into Los Angeles territory thanks to four passes from Mullens to rookie wideout Richie James — the finest being this third-down toss into double coverage:

Unfortunately, McNichols was bottled up for a loss after head coach Kyle Shanahan elected to keep his offense on the field on a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line. But after a three-and-out by the Chargers and a 23-yard punt return by James, the 49ers were able to score their second touchdown of the game on a quick-hitting run by RB Jeff Wilson:

After San Francisco’s defense forced a punt, Heneghan continued to play the “Mullens role” with a second-consecutive comeback touchdown drive. The Niners’ QB improvised with a 16-yard run on third down, before giving McNichols another chance to reach the end zone with under three minutes remaining on the game clock:

Unfortunately, punter Jeff Locke‘s kickoff was returned 63 yards by Chargers running back Detrez Newsome. With the 49ers allowing time to run off the clock, four plays later, kicker Roberto Aguayo booted a 26-yard field goal for the game-winning score:

Next. Chargers vs. 49ers: Game day thread. dark

The San Francisco 49ers kick off the 2018 regular season against the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday, September 9, 2018, at 1 p.m. E.T., at U.S. Bank Stadium, in Minneapolis, MI.