5 Bad Things: 49ers at Chargers, Preseason

Quarterback Scott Tolzien #16 of the San Diego Chargers throws with pressure against the San Francisco 49ers during their preseason NFL Game. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Pass Protection: Scott Tolzien was sacked 5 times. That's way too much for any QB, but maybe he held onto the ball too long. Also, I'm sure he wasn't exactly playing behind out starting offensive line. Still, 5 sacks (and what looks like countless other hits after he released the ball) on a QB is a good way to get him on the Injured Reserve list.

 

Pass Rush: On the flip side of the coin is....if the 49ers could torment Tolzien, why couldn't the Chargers get to the San Francisco QBs? Three different Niner QBs were used for a total of 31 pass attempts (the Chargers had 26), and yet only one of them was sacked. He also happened to be the only one to throw an interception (he threw two) and is probably the 3rd string QB.

Antwan Barnes had a second straight game where it looked like nobody could stop him from getting near the QB, but he never actually got to him. Here's to hoping the return of Shaun Phillips makes a gigantic difference in getting pressure on opposing QBs.

Bryan Walters: He's here because of expectations, and what was on the line. The Chargers coaches gave him a stage, making him the only kick and punt returner for the game as well as playing him at WR for a good length of time, and he couldn't match the magic of the previous two weeks. He finished with pedestrian numbers on returns (23.5 yard average on kick returns, 4 yard average on punt returns) and as a wideout (2 catches, 25 yards). If Walters needed one more good game to make the roster, I don't think he got it.

 

Kick Coverage: I didn't see it, but I see "Kendall Hunter 51-yard kick return" and I want to scream. I haven't been blown away by an improvement in special teams in the preseason. It looks like it did at the end of last year, when the patchwork squad A.J. Smith signed off the street (including Kelley Washington) moved it from "atrocious" to "below average". Granted, it should get better as Rich Bisaccia has more time with the guys and as the Special Team guys have to focus less on actually playing on offense or defense. At least we should hope it does.

 

Stopping the Run: I don't even need to go into the numbers, the run defense was horrid last night. A big reason, and a somewhat disappointing one, is that Cam Thomas is not Antonio Garay. The 49ers realized early on that they could run to the sidelines and cut down on the defensive linemen to take them out of the play. The way to beat that play is with at least one defensive linemen bursting through the line. Garay and Luis Castillo have a better chance than anyone else of doing that, and neither were out there getting abused last night. Having a few pass-rush-only guys like Darryl Gamble, Antwan Barnes and Travis LaBoy out there didn't help matters either.

This Chargers defense is good, but it's not incredibly deep. That's what the preseason has taught us. If the key guys can stay healthy (the defensive line, Takeo Spikes, Donald Butler, Eric Weddle), they could be scary good. That's a big if though, and one every other NFL team is hoping for themselves as well.

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