The Chargers fought hard from the first whistle to the last. They lost two more defensive tackles during the game to injury and starting tight end Gerald Everett also left the game before they even hit halfway.
Still, despite all of this, the Chargers held a lead over the 49ers until late in the fourth quarter. Time after time, the defense held the Niners to field goals when touchdown were far and away the expectation.
They tried. They did everything they could given the situation. It unfortunately wasn’t enough in the end.
It also didn’t help that the offense was completely out of the picture in the second half. The Chargers mustered just 52 yards after the break with zero points scored.
There’s a small chance that both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams could return to play against the Chiefs, but with the way this season is going, I wouldn’t get your hopes up just yet.
For the complete quarter-by-quarter breakdown of tonight’s game, check it out below.
The slow starts became a thing of the past as the Chargers began the game with a near-perfect drive. Justin Herbert completed all four of his passes, including a 32-yard touchdown strike to DeAndre Carter. Within the first four minutes, the Chargers held an early 7-0 lead.
The Chargers defense looked as if they weren’t going to be able to stop the 49ers ground game as San Francisco marched all the way inside the L.A. five-yard line. But the Bolts managed to get a stop on third down which forced a Niners field goal. Near the end of the first, the Bolts retained the lead at 7-3.
On their second offensive drive, Herbert managed to convert a pair of first downs to get the Chargers near midfield. On a third down attempt, Nick Bosa got close to Herbert which forced an errant throw behind Josh Palmer who looked like he would have moved the chains with a clean pass. The Bolts would punt the ball back to the Niners, but it only took a couple plays for them to get it back.
Jimmy Garoppolo hit Brandon Aiyuk for what looked like an easy first down but Asante Samuel Jr. tossed him into Derwin James who punched the ball out through their collision. Samuel picked the ball up and the Bolts were back in business at the 49ers 41-yard line.
Time expired in the first quarter with the Bolts facing a third down situation.
Herbert missed Palmer deep in the end zone on third down which forced a field goal attempt by Cameron Dicker. The rookie just curved it inside the right upright and the Bolts pushed their lead back to seven.
The 49ers could not muster a first down on their first drive of the second quarter and they punted swiftly back to the Chargers who were still riding plenty of early momentum from the turnover.
After another Chargers punt, the defense got another stop on the 49ers and linebacker Nick Niemann managed to block the Mitch Wishnowsky punt to give the Bolts the ball inside 49ers territory. Herbert found Carter again who took it all the way down to the two-yard line. After an incompletion on first down, Foster Sarell was called for a false start and the Chargers were pushed back five yards. Nick Bosa sacked Herbert just behind the line of scrimmage on second down and then number 10 found Ekeler in the flat on third but was well short of the end zone. Dicker converted the kick and the Chargers pushed their lead to 10 points at 13-3.
The 49ers finally found their groove on offense on the ensuing drive. Garoppolo found George Kittle on a third-and-12 which really got the offense going around him as he muscled for some extra yards after the catch. The Niners eventually marched the ball to the goal line before Garoppolo scored on a quarterback sneak from the half-yard line.
With a little under two minutes in the half, the Niners were back to trailing by three.
Herbert was able to bring the Chargers down the field with both his arm and his legs. On a third down scramble, Herbert ended up getting rocked by linebacker Dre Greenlaw which caused the latter to be ejected for a questionable head-to-head collision. Herbert was forced to come out and Chase Daniel played out the final three downs of the drive before Dicker banged home another kick to make it 16-10 before half.
The 49ers came out of the gates hot behind the running of Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel. They were able to swiftly get inside the Chargers 10-yard line, but the Bolts defense was able to hunker down and force yet another field goal. They got the ball back still holding on to a three-point lead.
The Bolt’s first drive of the second half started well but quickly fell apart when they crossed over the 50. They punted, but the defense stood tall again with Khalil Mack leading the way with a sack and a forced incompletion.
Herbert couldn’t mount anything on the ensuing drive and they punted away as the third quarter ticked away.
The Niners finally got back in the end zone on a short run by McCaffrey which gave them their first lead of the night at 19-16.
The Chargers continued to fall flat on offense and were forced into a three-and-out. However, they scratched and clawed to force a 49ers punt that took then under the two-minute mark.
Wishnowsky planted the ball at the one-yard line, which effectively sealed the game as the Chargers offense couldn’t get anywhere close to the first down mark.
But even after holding the 49ers to a field goal with their backs once again against their goal line, pressure forced a Herbert interception on the final drive and the Niners were able to escape with a 22-16 victory.
Justin Herbert with 196 passing yards on 21-of-35 passes with one touchdown and an interception.
Austin Ekeler managed just 63 yards from scrimmage and was held without a touchdown for the first time since week three. He also caught seven passes.
DeAndre Carter led the offense with 64 receiving yards on four receptions. He also caught the only touchdown of the game for the Chargers.
Drue Tranquill recorded a career-high 15 total tackles to pace both teams. Derwin James also pitched in 13 tackles. Khalil Mack posted the team’s only sack and two tackles for loss.
The Chargers will be back at home on Sunday Night Football next week against the Chiefs.