49ers have an easy way to beat Chargers QB Justin Herbert

Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers (Photo by Adam Hagy/Getty Images)
Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers (Photo by Adam Hagy/Getty Images) /

5-3. 13. NBC. Sunday, Nov. 13. 4-4. 42. 49ers -7. 8:20 p.m. ET

The Chargers may have the superior quarterback, Justin Herbert, over the 49ers’ own in Jimmy Garoppolo. But the Niners can still easily beat Herbert.

If matchups between teams were solely based on quarterback versus quarterback, the 5-3 Los Angeles Chargers would have a distinct advantage over the 4-4 San Francisco 49ers when both teams square off for Sunday Night Football in Week 10.

After all, the Bolts’ own Justin Herbert has cemented himself as one of the NFL’s best young signal-callers, and that reputation so well established a year ago is carrying over into 2022, too.

Nothing against Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but let’s not kid ourselves by believing he’s superior to Herbert.

However, San Francisco is a seven-point home favorite in this game for other key reasons, namely because Herbert isn’t a one-man show, and one could argue Chargers head coach Brandon Staley hasn’t exactly turned that franchise around in a way that was originally expected when he took over in 2021.

Right there, that’s the key for the 49ers beating Herbert and the Bolts in prime time.

49ers can turn to an old NFL cliche to beat Justin Herbert, Chargers

It’s a pretty simpleton way of analyzing a matchup when an elite-level quarterback is in play, but one of the best ways to defeat that quarterback and his team is simply not to let him on the field.

Super cliche, right?

But there has to be some truth to this cliche. And it resides in the fact that Los Angeles is an awfully flawed team with a great quarterback under center. Looking over at our Chargers sister site, Bolt Beat, this particular breakdown from the end of last season helps describe what this is about:

"It’s quite simply the fact that Justin cannot catch, pass rush, run-stop, cover receivers, coach, or draft/sign/trade for his own players.As a quarterback, one can only do so much, and if the Week 18 game was any indication, the Chargers as a team have a long way to go if it ever wants to position itself into serious title contention.It has been an issue of mine from the very get-go of this 2021 season that the Bolts did not do enough in the offseason to put adequate pieces around Justin Herbert."

LA upgraded its team during the offseason, yes, but it illustrates the point about how Staley’s team is not reaching its true potential.

Especially now on defense, where the Chargers rank ninth worst in points allowed (206), fourth worst in yards per play (5.9) and dead last in rush yards allowed per play (5.7).

Go back and read that last stat: “Dead last in rush yards allowed per play.”

The Niners love to run the ball, and the pre-NFL trade deadline addition of All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey is only going to maximize the likelihood of head coach Kyle Shanahan calling run play after run play, even if it means Garoppolo attempts no more than 15 passes against the Bolts this Sunday.

Perhaps even fewer.

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And that’s where our cliche comes back into focus. Shanahan won’t mind a lower-scoring game if it means his offense is on the field for nearly two-thirds of regulation, thereby keeping Herbert and the Chargers offense on the sidelines as much as possible.

On the year, Los Angeles’ defense is about in the middle of the pack in terms of an average time of defensive stands, 2:47, which is 15th. But San Francisco shouldn’t fall for the mistake of thinking it needs to have Garoppolo keep pace with Herbert.

No, if the 49ers stick with a game plan of at least 35 rushing plays or more, they’ll keep Herbert off the field for potentially up to 40 minutes.

That’s a recipe for success when the Niners square off against the Chargers on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 8:20 p.m. ET.

Next. 4 toughest games remaining on Niners' 2022 schedule. dark