I know, I know. The game doesn't matter. I'm the one who has been saying these games don't matter. That they're not even games, they're exhibitions. However, this one kind of matters. The upcoming San Diego Chargers preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers is very important for both teams, and the first-stringers will take great pride in having a higher score than their opponent when they leave the game.
We've yet to see anything resembling hunger or desire from the 2014 Chargers. They played well against the Dallas Cowboys and poorly against the Seattle Seahawks, and they looked mostly bored in both games.
The San Francisco 49ers pride themselves on being the hungrier, nastiest, angriest players on the field each week. They've been boat raced in their first two games, and will be looking to leave a mark on San Diego to prove to their coach that they haven't lost that fire.
The third week of the preseason is for more than just practicing and playing the game, it's practice for the coaching staff, the travel secretary, the training staff, and everyone else associated with the team. It's a dry run for the regular season.
I haven't been in the offensive meetings for the 49ers this week, but I imagine there's a whiteboard in their meeting room that has the phrase "If all else fails, run for a first down!" written in big letters.
John Pagano's defense isn't just known for giving up big runs against mobile QBs, it's also known for giving up big runs to non-mobile QBs. Colin Kaepernick might be the best running QB in the league right now, and he's likely going to have his way with the Chargers defense on Sunday.
Strength vs. Weakness
I pointed this out during Gennaroly Speaking last night, but I'll lay it out here again. If this were a regular season game, and as the third preseason game it's as close as we're going to get, this would be a terrifying matchup.
San Francisco's biggest strength in their offensive line, which is probably still true as their wait for OT Anthony Davis to return from injury. The Chargers, who didn't do well against bruising offensive lines when healthy, have some serious problems in the front seven of their defense after injuries to Manti Te'o and Sean Lissemore.
I expect the 49ers to be able to do whatever they want on offense against San Diego. They'll push the line backwards, win physical battles with Chargers DBs, and have wide open running lanes for Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore to take advantage of.
Don't panic. I'll be back later on with three reasons to be optimistic about the Chargers chances of putting on a good show in San Francisco.