The 49ers falter in their final preseason game, losing to the Chargers 27-24. Niner Noise recaps everything that went down.
The fourth preseason game, the last obstacle before the regular season begins. For many of the players, this was their final audition for either the San Francisco 49ers or any team for a spot on the 53-man roster. That being said, there has to be a winner and loser, and the 49ers lost their perfect season tonight against the Chargers.
For the 49ers, the run defense, which had been a strong point all preseason, turned into a glaring weakness. The Chargers tandem of Derrick Gore, Troymaine Pope, and Jeremy Cox rushed for 147 yards on just 20 carries. In the first half, Cardale Jones managed to break loose of the pocket when the rush got home and dissect a weak 49ers secondary.
That being said, the offense continued to showcase a powerful run game. Jeff Wilson got considerable burn for a preseason game, rushing 20 times on his own for 100 yards and a touchdown. When Wilson was pulled, Austin Walter was serviceable.
There was several small battles that went on through the game between players competing for a roster spot. C.J. Beathard got to play the entire first half, finishing 6-for-9 for 58 yards and a touchdown. He wasn’t terrible but by no means was he great. Nick Mullens has clearly won the backup position.
Wide receiver was also an interesting battle. Jordan Matthews didn’t get a single target in his very-limited time on the field, possibly a sign he made the 49ers roster. Richie James had early action but then sat the rest of the game. But Kendrick Bourne played through the entire game as a receiver and a gunner on special teams. Bourne caught a touchdown on a great diving play, but he also dropped yet another pass. Kyle Shanahan said that everything is up in the air in his post-game presser, but it was not a strong performance.
Then at backup linebacker, Malcolm Smith’s release gave Dre Greenlaw a path to a starting spot and Azeez Al-Shaair a spot on the roster, presumably. Yet David Mayo and Mark Nzeocha were competing for one special-teams/backup LB spot. While Mayo whiffed on the first play of the game, Nzeocha had multiple tackles for loss and an interception.
Meanwhile, Adrian Colbert, of whom I wrote about needing a great game, got injured playing special teams and left with a hamstring injury, a setback to the same injury he had earlier. Antone Exum did not have a good showing, giving Colbert the window of opportunity to pounce. Now the only way Colbert stays a 49er is by going on season-ending IR.
All these competitions and many more defined the final preseason game for the 49ers. Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch, and anyone with authority down in Santa Clara have been mum about what to do, the only public comments geared towards trade interest. This game has provided the final clips of tape the 49ers brass need to make their decisions.
The preseason might have ended, but the action is just beginning. To keep up with it all, stay here with Niner Noise.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.