The San Francisco 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers 23-13 in the final preseason game of 2017. For a Week 4 preaseason game, it was actually quite entertaining if you got to watch it, but it was still Week 4 of the preseason and it’s a much different football game without the starters on the field.
While the game was somewhat normal, by about the 4th quarter things turned into the circus common of these types of games. This was topped off by the 49ers intercepting the Chargers in the fourth quarter, throwing a pick-6 shortly thereafter, and then blocking the extra point and almost returning it to the house.
Beyond that, there were some fights for roster spots, showed in the play on the field. Here’s 10 things we learned after this:
1: 49ers have options on D:
Either the Chargers backups aren’t anything at all or the 49ers have some solid depth decisions to make regarding their defense. Throughout the first half, the Chargers weren’t able to do much of anything. Part of this was on the erratic play of quarterback Cardale Jones. This is a nice change considering this group consists of many players who helped the Minnesota Vikings win Week 3 at the last minute. The defense did have a bad drive at the start of the 2nd quarter, letting the Chargers run game walk all over them, but got their act together in the redzone, putting together a nice stop to force a field goal. They also forced a fumble leading to a 49ers recovery on the Chargers 8 yard line. As the game went on, the defense clamped down on any touchdown aspirations the Chargers may have, be it stops, fumbles or interceptions.
2: Can’t say the same about the offense:
The 49ers offense was marginally better than the Chargers. That’s not inspiring at all. The only thing the 49ers managed to do better than the Chargers was not turn the ball over as much. C.J. Beathard was actually taking off from broken pockets and to save himself from getting nailed and didn’t have a chance to scan the field. The touchdowns scored were more from great special teams play than it was from good offensive execution. Well there was one touchdown that was pretty awesome. Which brings me to:
3: C.J. Beathard has a 5th gear...sometimes
Beathard had a few hurries thanks to a collapsing offensive line and we finally got an extended look at his wheels. After this glimpse he should stay in the pocket and throw. At least that’s what I was going to say until he broke off a 62-yard touchdown run midway into the 2nd quarter. We know Beathard isn’t ready to start just yet, but he’s shown enough to make us hopeful for the future
4: Victor Bolden Jr. probably made the roster
The 49ers wide receiver may be bringing back some kicks this season. No sooner than a stop on the Chargers offensive series following the Beathard TD run, Bolden took a 92 yard punt return to the house. The 49ers have struggled to have a dominant kick returner and maybe that struggle will begin its end.
5: DeAndre Carter may have not
Following their last punt which led to Bolden taking off, DeAndre Carter handled a punt with a similar distance and got promptly leveled about three yards in. The 49ers wide receivers got a shot in the arm this offseason and they have some big decisions to make. Carter just doesn’t seem like one to stick around.
6: Maybe the regular TV broadcast team isn’t so bad
During a hurry, C.J. Beathard took off for the sideline and got nailed just as he went out of bounds. The call could have gone either way, but I heard the color commentator say, “He had one foot in, one foot inches out and both cheeks on the ground.” Upon hearing that, I found myself appreciating the main broadcast teams given to us during the regular season.
7: Tim Hightower puts in effort no matter what
That guy just kept fighting for yards on each play. He helped move the chains on a crucial third down with a fight, and then he smashed his way into the endzone, trucking his own offensive line to cross the plane. Hightower may not make the roster, and this isn’t a game he needs to showcase much being a vested veteran, but he’s giving it his all.
8: Joe Williams had an underwhelming preseason
Maybe I’m in the minority, but Joe Williams has looked unimpressive throughout camp. I don’t know his final stat line for the preseason but someone commented on the boards it was in the realm of six carries for 17 yards coming into tonight’s game. Tonight, Williams came out and had a better night...in the second half of the fourth preseason game. Or at least he would have if he didn’t cough up the ball into the 4th quarter. This wouldn’t be bothering if it wasn’t for the fact that the 49ers burned a 4th round pick on the running back. So far, that pick may not yield a return.
9: Asa Jackson likes the interception
With two picks, Asa Jackson looked mighty good. While two interceptions may notch someone a roster spot, Jackson has bounced around the league since 2012. One of those interceptions came against the second quarterback for the Chargers. The 49ers have a lot of options at cornerback, so maybe they choose to develop one of the younger guys, or Jackson joins the squad.
10: Adrian Colbert at safety?
We’re probably going to get more on this in a press conference. In a rather interesting move, the 49ers put cornerback Adrian Colbert in at safety. Given the current crop of cornerbacks and a possible need at safety, it seems like the 49ers want to see how Colbert can do at the position should an emergency arise. Or maybe they want to convert him over. Kyle Shanahan will probably give an explanation about the move. Safety/cornerback swiss army knives are very useful when the injuries pile up, Colbert may be looking into that role.