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49ers preseason winners and losers from Week 3 vs. Chargers

The 49ers finally managed a preseason win, defeating the San Diego Chargers 21-7. The first team offense struggled, but others looked particularly good. We take a look at a few winners and losers from the game.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers finally found the end zone in the preseason, securing their  first win with a 21-7 victory over the San Diego Chargers. The first string offense struggled to do much of anything, but the rest of the team had some positive moments. With the first roster cuts due no later than 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday, here are some winners an losers from Week 3.

Winners

Blaine Gabbert - It was a solid day from the much maligned backup quarterback. He put together a great touchdown drive, officially joining Vance McDonald as the trivia answer to the first touchdown ever scored at Levi's Stadium. Gabbert was awful in Week 1, and then showed a little bit of improvement in Week 2. Seeing further improvement in Week 3 bodes well.

Aaron Lynch - Just a huge performance from the rookie outside linebacker. He had a sack and three batted passes, one of which resulted in an interception. He is a force on the line thanks to the combination of his size and wing span. He would seem to have locked up a roster spot, and may well have earned some playing time during Aldon Smith's potential suspension.

Starting defense - They gave up the touchdown to Rivers, but otherwise, just getting most of them on the field was a big plus. You could see the difference between this group and the group that was picked apart by Peyton Manning. There is still work to do, but this group will be able to do some things this fall.

Vance McDonald - What a difference a year makes. It is only preseason, so I suppose we need to take this with a grain of salt. But McDonald is looking sharp thus far. After some reported struggles in practice, McDonald is showing good hands. I still don't think he becomes a huge presence in the passing game, but if he continues what we've seen thus far, he will be an important part of the offense.

Chris Borland - I still think Michael Wilhoite claims the starting ILB job, but Borland had his best performance of the preseason. He led the team with 7 tackles, and also secured a sack that saw him leap to make it. When he tackles, there is no doubting his purpose, as he is sort of like a missile going at the opponent. Even if he does not see a lot of ILB time this year, he should be a force on special teams.

Jimmie Ward - He secured his first interception on a pass tipped by Aaron Lynch and Dontae Johnson. My favorite play though was the non-fumble he scooped up and ran back for a non-touchdown. We saw a great celebration, but more importantly, he came a good deal away to grab the ball. He's getting nickel and safety time, and looks like he has locked up the starting nickel job.

Glenn Winston - We'll have more on him later today, but he had an excellent day, rushing eight times for 58 yards. He could be the winner of the Kory Sheets/Thomas Clayton preseason award, but he looked like a lot more than just a straight line speed guy beating crappy defenses. He looked like a guy with vision....beating crappy defenses.

Losers

Mike Iupati - Talk about a miserable performance. People were busy complaining about the right side of the line and the need to get Alex Boone back in the fold, and yet it was Iupati who had the huge struggles on Sunday. It is only one game, so I'm not concerned in the big picture, but it was amazing how bad Iupati looked on Sunday.

Josh Johnson - This actually has nothing to do with what he did on Sunday. Well, the fumbled snap didn't help, but other than that He had a solid showing. I include him here because of Gabbert's performance. The 49ers could keep both Gabbert and Johnson, but I just don't see it at this point. I remain convinced the 49ers only carry two quarterbacks on the roster, and Gabbert showed enough on Sunday to further justify his roster spot.

Craig Dahl - We don't know how a specific play is game-planned, but for the second week in a row, Dahl was on the losing end of a touchdown. Last week it was Peyton Manning, and this week it was Philip Rivers, so it is not like these are the worst quarterbacks in the world. Both plays saw Dahl playing as though he was getting some help inside. It is possible it was not Dahl's fault at all, but two weeks in a row is not a good sign.

Tight end coverage - Michael Wilhoite is a sure tackler who fits well next to Patrick Willis. However, the biggest question with NaVorro Bowman's absence is going to be how the 49ers will cover tight ends. The 49ers face Jason Witten in Week 1, so that is going to be a huge thing to follow.