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San Diego Chargers First Team Defense Impressive Against 49ers First Team Offense

Kyle Posey analyses the San Diego Chargers defense, going play by play to explain what went well and what didn't in yesterday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. Spoiler: a lot went well for San Diego.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I did this last preseason where I put together something you could call an "extended box score". So for those of you that didn't get a chance to watch the game, or happened to be watching the action around the ball, this will help explain how the result happened.

I'll cover the 1st quarter, as well as the 1st drive for the 49ers in the 2nd quarter. Another defense is that this will strictly be a defensive post. I will get to the offense, but I figure we can have better dialogue if we're not bouncing back and forth.

What You'll See

I'll give you the down and distance, which yard–line the ball is placed, what formations the offense and defense were in, the result of the play, and a short analysis of what happened during that play.

The offensive formations are denoted by [# of backs][# of tight ends] and if applicable, shotgun.

The defensive formations are denoted by [# of DL][# of LBs] and [# of DBs if > 4]

First Series

1st and 10; SF 21; O-Form 12; D-Form Base 34; Gore rushes to left end for -2

The 49ers came out in an unbalanced line to the left. From the left after the tight end motioned across the formation, it went TE, OT, OT, OG, OC, OG, TE. Love the creativity.

This play went for a loss for two reasons. First, Melvin Ingram did a hell of a job of getting into the tight end and driving him 4 yards backwards. That turned the play inside to the flowing defenders. Corey Liuget does a good job locating the ball, shedding the block, and making the tackle for loss. Brilliant play by both of them.

2nd and 12; SF 19; O-Form 22; D-Form 34 stack; Kaepernick pass incomplete

5 step drop, no pass rush. Kaepernick has the tight end wide open up the seam and air–mails the throw. Chargers got lucky two times here. The missed throw, and Shareece Wright not getting called for a helmet to helmet penalty.

3rd and 12; SF 19; O-Form 11; D-Form 4-1-6; Kaepernick Scrambles for 8 yards

Cover 1 here with Eric Weddle as the QB spy (smart). Kaepernick leaves a clean pocket after his initial target, Michael Crabtree, is covered. He pumps towards Crabtree again, but doesn't like what he sees and takes off. Weddle forces a fumble from behind but the 49ers are able to recover.

A 3 and out to start the game? Who are these guys.

2nd Series

1st and 10; SF 15; O-Form 21; D-Form 34; Kaepernick scrambles for 5 yards

Chargers bring 5, and Liuget creates some late pressure which forces Kaepernick to leave the pocket. He outruns Ingram to the corner for a gain of 5. Kavell Conner tripped over Vernon Davis' feet and was called for defensive holding. 5 yard penalty that was enforced at the 20 yard line, automatic 1st down.

1st and 10; SF 25; O-Form 12; D-Form 34; Carlos Hyde up the middle for 1 yard

Another unbalanced line for the 49ers to the right, with both WRs lined up in twins to the right. It's a power play to the right. Conner eludes the right guard's block, and makes the stop for a gain of 1. Great play by him.

2nd and 9; SF 26; O-Form 12; D-Form 34; Kaepernick sacked for loss of 8

Liuget slaps the guard's hands down off of him like I slap my daughter's hands when she reaches for something she's not supposed to. You can watch the play here. Textbook. Strip sack for a turnover.

First a 3 and out, now a turnover. Enough is enough. Give me my Chargers back.

3rd Series

1st and 10; SF 5; 0-Form 12; D-Form 34; Kaepernick pass incomplete deep

49ers love putting their WRs in twins. This time the Tight Ends are in twins to the short side of the field. Ingram shows off a legit pass rush. He gets under the pads of Joe Staley and bull–rushes him into the quarterback. He hits Kaepernick and forces an errant throw. Luckily it was errant, because the tight end had a step on Jarret JohnsonHere's the play.

2nd and 10; SF 5; O-Form 12; D-Form 34 stack; Hyde up the middle for 2 yards

Another twins formation, that brings Gilchrist into the box as a linebacker. Kendall Reyes does a good job holding the double team(!) and Gilchrist aggressively fills the hole and makes the tackle. WHO ARE THESE GUYS?!

Unfortunately this is the play where Geathers was injured.

3rd and 8; SF 7; O-Form 11; D-Form 4-1-6; Kaepernick complete to Boldin for 10 yards

Chargers come with a zone blitz, as Brandon Flowers comes from the slot. No one generates pressure and the 3 step drop would have made it hard to, anyways. Wright lets Boldin cross his face to catch a slant, and then allows Boldin to gain the 1st down.

1st and 10; SF 17; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4; Hyde gain of 2 yards

What looks to be an outside zone run to the right, San Diego is able to control the line of scrimmage. Donald Butler shoots the gap, flies in the backfield, but misses the tackle for loss. Ingram and Weddle sandwich Hyde as he's able to fall forward for a gain of 2.

2nd and 8; SF 19; O-Form 12; D-Form 3-4; Kaepernick pass incomplete

Quick 3 step drop, Kaepernick hits a wide open Vernon Davis in the numbers for a would–be gain of 3, but Davis flat out drops the ball. Johnson on the coverage again.

3rd and 8; SF 19; O-From 11; D-Form 4-1-6; Kaepernick pass incomplete

Chargers bring 4 as Liuget and Reyes 'stunt' up the middle. Liuget beats the right guard on a nice looking inside rip move and hits Kaepernick's arm to force another errant pass.

Liuget's healthy, folks.

4th Series

1st and 10; SF 24; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4; L. James up the middle for 3 yards

Carrethers gets pushed back a good 3 yards by a double–team. Butler hesitates and catches a block that takes him out of the play, too. Weddle squeezes his way in the play and cleans it up for a gain of 3.

2nd and 7; SF 27; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4 Stack; Kaepernick pass complete for 9 yards

San Francisco motions its fullback out wide, so they're in a trips set now and instead of Ingram bumping out there, Flowers does. You now have Ingram lined up over Crabtree and Butler over Boldin. Not ideal. Boldin settles down wide open over the middle for an easy pitch and catch.

1st and 10; SF 36; O-Form 11; D-Form 4-2-5; L. James rushes for -2 yards

Flowers blitzes from the slot again. This causes Freeney to slant inside and he beats the guard and blows up the play in the backfield.

2nd and 12; SF 34; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4 stack; Kaepernick pass complete for 7 yards

Conner blankets Davis, Kaepernick's first read. He checks down to LaMichael James who's simply too fast for Butler.

3rd and 5; SF 41; O-Form 11; D-Form 4-1-6; Kaepernick pass complete for 16 yards

Like 95% of his throws, it's to his 1st read. Attaochu and Reyes collapse the right side of the pocket it, but it's a step and throw so no harm is done. Each of the 3 corners have their man in check, but Davis makes it look easy as he separates effortlessly from Gilchrist and then drags him at the end for a few yards for good measure.

1st and 10; SD 43; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4; Kaepernick pass complete for 10 yards

Butler blitzes through the B-gap, right in the throwing lane. Would've liked to see him get his hands up to knock it down. Kaepernick fires a missile that somehow Weddle didn't intercept. Great read on his part. Flowers can't knock it free from Crabtree — who has some of the strongest hands in the game — and it's a 1st down.

1st and 10; SD 33; O-Form 22; D-Form 3-4; Kaepernick pass complete for 7 yards

Believe this was the first play–action pass from San Francisco. Kaepernick has all day and dumps it off to the fullback in the flat. Conner and Gilchrist dropped to the same zone. Conner yelled at Gilchrist after the play. From the looks of it, he was right. Gilchrist should've been in the flats.

2nd and 3; SD 26; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4; Hyde up the middle for 9 yards

49ers run a draw play. Big hole up the middle as again Carrethers gets pushed back a few yards and takes away Butler's angle to pursue the play. Hyde breaks Conner's tackle and spins for a gain of 9.

1st and 10; SD 17; O-Form 12; D-Form 3-4; Kapernick pass incomplete

San Fran motions the back to the bottom of the screen, where he's paired with 2 tight ends. 2 WR's to the top of the screen and the quarterback is alone in the backfield. Kaepernick stares down his receiver and Liuget does what he's supposed to do: he gets his hands up and bats the ball down. Smart play.

2nd and 10; SD 17; O-Form 11; D-Form 4-2-5; L. James up the middle for -4

Liuget beats the 1st blocker to his spot, then beats the pulling guard to the ball and trips up James in the backfield. We see you, Corey.

3rd and 14; SD 21; O-From 12; D-Form 4-2-5; Kaepernick pass incomplete

Zone blitz. Butler comes up the middle, Gachkar from the edge, as Attaochu drops into the middle from the opposite side. Freeney does a great job and occupies the blockers and it allows both blitzers to come free. Butler gets his hands up and tips it in the air for an incompletion.


4 drives, 74 total yards, 3 yards per play, 3 points. You really can't do much better than that. Add in a 3–and–out and a turnover and all that pessimism from last week goes away quickly. Reyes played much better. Conner was aggressive. The 3 corners were solid. Weddle was Weddle.

But whoooooo boy, Corey Liuget.

I thought he had been good up to this point, but yesterday's performance was ridiculous. He was the best player on the field in the game, no doubt about it. Hopefully this game gives the Chargers defense some confidence going forward. It was as good as a performance as you can ask for. Bravo.