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2014 San Diego Chargers Opponents Preview: San Francisco 49ers

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We take a look at the off-season the 49ers had, as we preview our week 16 opponent. Following an upsetting loss in the NFC title game, what has San Francisco done to improve in 2014?

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

It's the second week of preason, and with the regular season right around the corner, we continue our preview of the opponents the San Diego Chargers will be facing this season. Each team has made different moves in order to improve their roster, and this series will help you become more familiar with each opponent.

In other words, KNOW YOUR ENEMY...

More Opponent Previews: Arizona Cardinals | Seattle Seahawks | Buffalo Bills | Jacksonville Jaguars | New York Jets | Miami Dolphins | St. Louis Rams | Baltimore RavensNew England Patriots

The San Francisco 49ers enter the 2014 as one of the favorites in the NFC, but supplanting their division-rivals and defending Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks, won’t be an easy task. Colin Kaepernick is entering his 4th season, and signed a contract extension this off-season, after throwing for 3,197 yards with 21 TD's and 8 interceptions, while rushing for 524 yards and scoring four times.

Their defense finished 13th in overall DVOA, after ranking 3rd the year before, and will now be missing key players, with NaVorro Bowman expected to miss half the year, and Glenn Dorsey tearing a bicep and out for the season, but Patrick Willis and Justin Smith will still be valuable contributors. Their is lack of depth in the secondary, after losing Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers in free-agency, but Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, and Perrish Cox should still be an effective unit.

Free-Agency

Additions: Chris Cook, Antoine Bethea

Losses: Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers, Anthony Dixon, Tarell Brown, Jonathan Goodwin, Mario Manningham

Draft

30. Jimmie Ward S Northern Illinois
57. Carlos Hyde RB Ohio State
70. Marcus Martin C USC
77. Chris Borland LB Wisconsin
100. Brandon Thomas OT Clemson
106. Bruce Ellington WR South Carolina
129. Dontae Johnson CB NC State
150. Aaron Lynch LB South Florida
170. Keith Reaser CB Florida Atlantic
180. Kenneth Acker CB Southern Methodist
243. Kaleb Ramsey DT Boston College
245. Trey Millard FB Oklahoma

Adding Jimmie Ward, a ball-hawking safety, should help create more turnovers, along with replacing the departed Donte Whitner. The 49ers also acquired other pieces through trades; reuniting Jonathan Martin with his old ball coach, while also getting Stevie Johnson from the Bills after they drafted Sammy Watkins. Adding Johnson gives the San Francisco passing offense the third receiving option it has been searching for and could result in their offense putting up big numbers this year.

With the buzz surrounding Tank Carradine in training camp, after he missed his rookie season with a torn ACL, the 49ers look ready to unleash him along the defensive line. Johnson and Bruce Ellington have been turning heads in practice as well, as they continue to develop chemistry with Kaepernick. Alex Boone continues to hold out in hopes of a new contract, as trade rumors for him have started to surface.

The 49ers have also been a witness to some bad luck with injuries to their running backs, after LaMichael James dislocated his elbow, and Kendall Hunter tore his ACL. Marcus Lattimore is still not cleared to practice, so second-round pick Carlos Hyde might be counted on immediately. With Hyde's combination of size and power, he should be an ideal fit for this offense, especially once the 31-year-old Frank Gore decides to retire.

Entering this week 16 match-up against the 49ers, the Chargers trail the all-time series 7-6-0, with San Diego winning the last match in 2010. San Francisco had a 6-2 home record last year, losing those two games by a combined total of four points, however, they will be playing in a new stadium this year.

The key to success for the Bolts might come in the way of how well the Chargers defense can match the intensity that the opposing defense will bring. The 49ers are a hard-hitting team, and they could very well be fighting to make the playoffs, so they likely won't have any reason to overlook any opponent this late in the season.

The Chargers will have to contain the explosive Kaepernick, while keeping his weapons in check, but after the Cowboys rushing attack gashed them for 50 yards on their first two drives in their first preseason game, the Bolts run defense will need to show more improvement, especially with all the run-heavy teams they will be facing this year.