2014 49ers' opponent offseason review: San Diego Chargers

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We take a look at the San Diego Chargers in anticipation of the upcoming season.

The 2014 NFL Draft is officially a wrap, which means offseason additions are just about complete. There will be some small free agent additions here and there, but training camp rosters are just about set. With that in mind, we are back to review each of the 49ers 2014 opponents. Each team has gained and lost numerous players, so this series will help get you more familiar with the rosters of each opponent.

The Chargers were a sneaky team last season, and that almost paid off for them. I don't mean that they play super deceptive football, but rather they seemed to rise suddenly from the middle of the pack, winning their last four games and nabbing a playoff spot in the process. Their last game was a nail-bitter against the Kansas City Chiefs back-ups, so naturally some drama ensued about how talented the Chargers really were and if they deserved their spot in the playoffs. But, they dismantled the Cincinnati Bengals, seemingly answering their critics.

The Chargers have to be happy, though, with how veteran Philip Rivers played and how new-comer WR Keenan Allen assisted in Rivers' return to the upper echelon of QBs. Another factor i Rivers heightened play and the Chargers' turn-around season was likely their new coach, Mike McCoy.

The Chargers, however, did face some problems coming into the offseason—problems that were only exacerbated by some salary cap issues. Their defense, last season, struggled at a couple of positions, most notably among the linebackers and cornerbacks. While they did address these issues to a degree, as we will see below, and while some of the issues were injury related such that the Chargers must be hoping they don't happen again, some questions marks still remain. Just to provide one example, can Manti Te'o become a more consistent player? His talent level is pretty high and the coaches are going to need to harness that. But, until he develops more consistency, the LB corps remains occasionally questionable.

Free Agency:

Additions: RB Donald Brown, QB Kellen Clemens, LB Kavell Conner, TE David Johnson, CB Brandon Ghee.

Loses: CB Derek Cox (cut), CB Johnny Patrick (cut), DT Cam Thomas, QB Charlie Whitehurst, G Stephen Schilling.

As we discussed above, the Chargers needed to add some CB depth, and they started the ball rolling by cutting Cox and signing Ghee. The Chargers have to hope that Ghee, along with a new draft pick, will provide the team with an upgrade at the position. On the QB front, the Chargers basically swapped Whitehurst for Clemens. Look for Brown to get a good amount of carries. Though Ryan Matthews is the RB in San Diego, the team might want to either limit his carries to prevent injury or use two different backs depending upon what offensive scheme they are employing at the time.

Draft:

25. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
50. Jeremiah Attaochu, LB, Georgia Tech
89. Chris Watt, G, Notre Dame
165. Ryan Carrethers, NT, Arkansas State
201. Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State
240. Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor

Verrett, one of the best CBs in the league draft, rounds out the Chargers' attempt to shore up their secondary. He is joined by pass-rusher Attaochu, who can help contribute to the LB corps. Reese, from what I've read, is a very nice late round addition. He is a burner who can stretch the field and score from far away on a consistent basis. Grice provides even more RB depth for Matthews and Brown.

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