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4 players to watch in Chargers preseason finale

The Chargers and 49ers kickoff tonight in the preseason finale at Levi’s Stadium.

New Orleans Saints defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 22-17 during a pre-season NFL football game. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

The Chargers kickoff against the 49ers tonight at 7:00 p.m. PST in Santa Clara.

There are a number of players who hope to parlay tonight’s performance into more time as a member of the Bolts, but these four below are the ones I’ll be watching the closest.

Let’s dive in.

OL Jordan McFadden

Through two preseason games, the 2023 fifth-rounder has had an up-and-down performance. In their first outing against the Rams, McFadden struggled across the board, including being called for a pair of penalties. One of those flags also wiped out an incredible 71-yard touchdown run from Isaiah Spiller.

He graded much better in the game against the Saints, showing marked improvement in both the run and pass game. Leaving with zero penalties was also an improvement.

McFadden doesn’t need a phenomenal outing to secure a roster spot, but another solid performance will show that he’s able to continue progressing from one outing to the next.

EDGE Carlo Kemp

Kemp currently leads all Chargers edge rushers in the preseason with eight pressures. Andrew Farmer and Ty Shelby are both second with half that amount.

The Chargers have their top four edge rushers solidified, but Kemp has a chance to push for one of the final roster spots with third solid outing. His size (6’3, 281 pounds) is ideal for an edge rusher in the run game and he’s still young enough to warrant developing.

For now, I’d give him the lead to be EDGE5 on this team.

DT Jerrod Clark

Clark is coming off a nice game against the Saints as both a run stopper and a pass rusher. Through two preseason games, he leads the team with six “stops” via Pro Football Focus, which is characterized as a tackle that “resulted in a failure by the offense.” He also has three pressures (tied for first among Chargers defensive tackles) and two quarterbacks hits (tied for team lead).

The Chargers have lacked a true nose tackle for their base 3-4 defense and Clark has a shot to be that guy for them. As much as the 49ers like to run, this game will be a great opportunity to show he can stop opposing backs in their tracks.

RB Elijah Dotson

Dotson broke out with two long touchdown runs against the Rams in their first preseason game. He wasn’t nearly as productive against the Saints (21 yards) and that regression was only emphasized by two impactful drops in the passing game. Both also came on crucial third downs on their final drive of the game.

To make it in the NFL as a running back, you can’t just be a one-trick pony. If you can run the ball, you also have to be able to pass protect. If you can’t pass protect, you have to be able to catch the ball and be their for your quarterback.

In this final game, it’s up to Dotson to show which type of player he can be for the Chargers. With Joshua Kelley and Isaiah Spiller locked into the final roster, I hope to see a whole lot of Dotson against the 49ers.