I'll be honest, as great as it was to see domination by the 49ers in numerous aspects of the game, more than anything I just let out a breath at the end of the game. The 49ers dealt with some injuries, but they escaped about as unscathed as most teams could hope for following the six weeks of training camp. Brandon Jacobs was apparently doing some jogging before the game, which is a big step from the crutches he was using last week.
Beyond the breath of fresh air that is being relatively healthy, I think we can all enjoy what was a thorough butt-whuppin of the Chargers. The game involved quite a few back-ups, but a 35-3 win is a 35-3 win. There were some areas on defense that need to be cleaned up, as we once again saw some poor coverage in the bend, but don't break defense. However, the defense stepped up all night long when it had its back against the wall, forcing two turnovers to prevent anything more than a single field goal.
The real story for the 49ers last night was on offense. Colin Kaepernick got the show started when he replaced Alex Smith five players into the game. After Alex Smith made five successful handoffs, the Colin Kaepernick show started. He was 12 of 18 for 158 yards and two touchdowns, with one rush for seven yards. The passing yards show plenty, but the highlight of Kaepernick's night might have been his ability to throw on the run. That is not something unexpected, but seeing it work to perfection is so sweet. Watching him maneuver around and fire the pass to Delanie Walker that turned into a touchdown was a thing of beauty.
Normally the second half of preseason contests gets incredibly boring. However, last night we had a chance to enjoy some second half fireworks courtesy of Josh Johnson. Johnson had not had a fantastic preseason previously, but if he was on the wrong side of the bubble in the third QB battle, he made sure to assert himself with authority last night.
Johnson started 7 of 7 and finished his appearance 9 of 14 for 125 yards, two touchdowns and 50 rushing yards on five attempts. He showed his mobility, he showed the cannon he has, whether it be a quick flick ten yards, or launching a bombing 50 yards. There have been questions of consistency with Johnson, so we do still have to take one big performance against the Chargers bench with a bit of a grain of salt. It was a great performance no matter what, but context must be considered.
On the flip side of the coin, we had Scott Tolzien. After a strong performance against the Vikings in the preseason opener, he was fairly quiet the last two weeks. Last night, he did not help his roster cause as he struggled to the tune of 3 of 8 for 42 yards and an interception. The numbers are not pretty and his performance was not pretty. It was not all his fault, but he had enough issues last night that it does not reflect well.
And what does that all mean for yet another 49ers quarterback battle? Who really knows. I don't think anybody can say with complete confidence how this will play out later today. Johnson had the strong performance and goes way back with Harbaugh. A counter might be that he's had his chances in the NFL and proven inconsistent. The counter to that might be that he has never had Harbaugh. You could back and forth all day with this.
The good news is that we will have some kind of answer today. It might not be what we expected, as Coach Harbaugh acknowledged that there was always the potential to keep a fourth quarterback. I'd be a bit surprised, but the Harbaalke duo have not exactly followed all the conventional wisdom in building this squad.