Well, just hope the starters don’t get injured. Like, REALLY hope the starters don’t get injured. The San Francisco 49ers starting offense looked absolutely scary. This is without Trent Williams and Christian McCaffrey. You feel pretty good about it until the broadcasting team reminds you the Los Angeles Chargers aren’t playing ANY of their starters. Suddenly seeing a 75-yard run from Charger second stringers against a first team defense might make you a bit worried.
The 49ers received to start the game and moved the ball down the field with little issues. There were some NICE 3rd down conversions from Purdy and also some good decisions to throw the ball away as well. Unfortunately, after a nice Brandon Aiyuk catch and go, Brock Purdy and Jordan Mason got tripped up on 1st and goal and then Mason fumbled the ball inches before crossing the plane, letting the chargers take over.
The Chargers' offense couldn’t do much on their first series, getting stuffed by the 49ers defense twice. This includes a NICE Fred Warner sack that forced a punt.
On the second drive, the 49ers again had little issue moving the ball. Again, credit to Brock Purdy’s excellent decision-making but also the Chargers not having any of the starters on defense which has to have a hand in this. Despite fumbling on the first series, the Jordan Mason Show continued with him rumbling the 49ers in a nice carry putting them on the 4-yard line. Brock Purdy then made a nice look and took off on a pump fake to go into the End zone untouched. Then Mitch Wishnowsky missed the XP.
Zane Gonzalez was listed out with a calf injury, leading to Wishnowsky taking over field goals and kicks.
The Chargers' offense then started slow on offense again but a run by Josh Kelly for 75 yards gives them a touchdown. The XP gave them a 1-point lead. Friendly reminder the Chargers starters aren’t playing in this game but broke out a run that is nigh-inexcusable for a defense like the 49ers.
The 49ers went back to work without Purdy who finished 7-9 and 73 yards.
Sam Darnold took over, but his drive was quickly stalled due to a hold from Nick Zakelj. The 49ers were forced to punt, and the special teams showed again not an inch is allowed.
The big question is the starters and the 49ers offense moved the ball without issue. But the starters for the Chargers were not present, which can be issues. The run by Kelly for 75 yards is concerning for the 49ers defense.
Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles was a beast on the field, screwing up Chargers plays on the regular and had a nice sack in the second quarter with the help of Javon Kinlaw.
On Sam Darnold’s second series he started getting into a rhythm and getting some yards thanks to a Ty-Davis Price toss that went for almost 20 yards. Unfortunately, the drive stalled near midfield and some errant miscommunication happened on 3rd and 4 for Darnold to throw a pass into the dirt.
When the Chargers took over on offense, the 49ers tightened up. There was a play on 2nd and 7 where the Chargers caught it to bring up 3rd and 2. There was a penalty for ineligible man downfield on the Chargers but the 49ers declined it to continue 3rd and 2. That made no sense at all.
The second half started where we got to see some of Drake Jackson. He nearly tipped an interception to himself and almost pulled another pick off two plays later.
The 49ers then took over, and it became the Ty Davis-Price show with him rumbling downfield. Sam Darnold had forced a pass that should have been picked. And it’s a shame because the next play he found Willie Snead.
With no kickers at this point, the 49ers tried for 2 points and failed, leaving it 12-10. The Chargers' offense took over and started a plethora of zone reads with quarterback Max Duggan keepers that gashed the 49ers for yards. On 4th and 2, the Chargers went for it and despite it being defended perfectly, Isaiah Oliver decided to play basketball rather than go after the quarterback and Duggan found an open man. Very weird defense there.
At 17-12, the 49ers offense took over, and it was Brandon Allen’s time to shine. And that time went bye-bye in a few plays as he threw a terrible ball to Tay Martin that was picked off. The Chargers were back in the red zone and got 3 points out of it to make it 20-12.
The 4th quarter started and then the 49ers special teams...which was doing really well, started making bonehead moves like taking a punt at the 5-yard line instead of letting it roll out of the end zone. From there was the 4th quarter preseason fun of back and forth until the game ended. The zone read continued as time went on and the 49ers looked ill prepared for it. The Chargers managed another field goal to make it 23-12 and the 49ers went into what Tim Ryan called “The Pittsburgh Formation” which was taking knees while down a few scores with less than 2 minutes left just to move onto Week 1.
While its preseason, and it’s not going to be perfect, it was also quite sloppy once the depth pieces came in to play.
The big story here is that the first team offense under Brock Purdy did well. Yes, it’s Chargers second stringers, but it still was able to move the ball downfield with little issues except shooting themselves in the foot. That said, the depth definitely leaves something to be desired because things got sloppy, and worse, and sloppy, and worse as the deeper pieces rotated in.
As far as defense is concerned, the 49ers need Nick Bosa back. With the Trey Lance trade getting them some cash, they should get a deal done shortly. While the 75-yard run wouldn’t have been stopped by Nick Bosa even if he was on the field, there’s still an element of urgency he can give to the offense that is sorely missed. As far as who’s playing opposite him. Clelin Ferrell seems to be the guy, but Drake Jackson showed some good stuff tonight. Too bad he showed stuff against Chargers players that may not be on the team come Tuesday.
Up Next: Cut day is Tuesday, August 29, and then it’s Pittsburgh Steelers for Week 1.