The Charges lost 22-16 to the 49ers on Sunday Night Football.
They fought. They clawed. They put it all out there. In the end, it wasn’t enough against a Niners squad that was nearly the picture of health heading into the matchup.
This week, I’ve got two winners and one loser. After watching the players gut it out on Sunday night, it just didn’t feel right to put any players in the Static section.
Let’s get to it.
EDGE Khalil Mack
In a game where the Chargers were missing countless stars, Mack showed up just enough to help shut down several drives by the 49ers. He was a a big part in keeping the 49ers out of the end zone on numerous accounts, even when it seemed all but a foregone conclusion that they would punch it in.
Mack finished with a questionable PFF grade of 48.9, but that was mainly due to the entire run defense being horrendous. Every starter up front received a poor grade so I’m not looking too hard into it. Mack got back in the sack column for the first time since week six against the Broncos while also posting a pair of tackles for loss.
We’re inching closer and closer to Joey Bosa returning to the field, which should only up the play of Mack down the final stretch.
WR DeAndre Carter
Justin Herbert completed his longest touchdown of the season to Carter on the opening drive of the game. The 32-yard strike was a perfectly thrown ball over the head of safety Talanoa Hufanga who bit too hard on an underneath route and allowed Carter to streak by him.
Number one paced the entire offense with 64 receiving yards on four receptions and stepped up in a game where current WR1 Josh Palmer couldn’t create much separation (three catches on eight targets).
Carter ended the night with the offense’s second-highest grade behind only Herbert with a 70.9.
Joe Lombardi in the second half
The Chargers’ battered offense had no business doing much of anything against the NFL’s top-ranked defense. However, they started the game by scoring a touchdown and taking a 7-0 lead on the opening drive. That essentially put a massive amount of hope in the fan base which was, in the end, unfortunately misplaced.
After taking a 16-10 lead into halftime, the offense suddenly vanished. The 49ers finally remembered who they were — and who they were playing against — before shutting out the Bolts in the second half, including allowing just 52 yards of offense through the final 30 minutes of regulation.
For whatever reason, Lombardi was incessant on running the football on every first down they got. Aside from one run that went for 12 yards, the Chargers couldn’t muster more than two on every one of their five other attempts. It consistently put the offense behind the sticks and Herbert was once again forced to throw his team out of the hole created by the lack of originality from Lombardi.
And no, there is no correlation between success running the football and the effectiveness of play-action. The chargers did NEED to keep running it on first downs to set anything up. If anything, they needed to attempt a play-action pass on first down to actually have a chance of catching the Niners defense off guard.
At the end of the day, Lombardi’s job is really hard right now. He’s doesn’t have much to work with, but when you go out and prove from the get-go that you CAN move the ball on that defense, you cannot all of a sudden lose that ability for an entire half of football.