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Chargers’ best and worst PFF grades vs. the 49ers

Carlo Kemp and Josh Kelley headline another strong game for the Chargers in their preseason finale against the 49ers.

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Chargers capped off their 2023 preseason schedule with a 23-12 win over the San Francisco 49ers on the road in Santa Clara, California. They finish 2-1 in the month of August to improve on their preseason record a season ago. While these games mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, it was a much different viewing experience than in recent years with Cardale Jones, Chase Daniel, and pre-breakout Geno Smith.

Cuts have already started towards Tuesday’s deadline, but nonetheless, here are the Chargers’ best and worst players from their preseason finale against the 49ers, according to Pro Football Focus.



  • RB Joshua Kelley - 91.8
  • C Brenden Jaimes - 90.7
  • WR Quentin Johnston - 83.1
  • C Will Clapp - 80.9
  • OG Zack Bailey - 80.4

Kelley made the play of the night against the 49ers when he broke multiple arm-tackle attempts before sprinting 75 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest touchdown of the preseason and most certainly the longest of his career.

Backup centers Clapp and Jaimes each put together solid outings, which is a great thing to see from the latter after he made the transition from guard to center earlier this year. Clapp is still the guy behind Corey Linsley, but this might force the Chargers to keep Jaimes on the practice squad.

Bailey was the most-consistent Chargers’ offensive lineman through the preseason. His grade against the 49ers was the second time he finished over 80.0 in August and the third above 77.0. Those are stellar numbers and I’d be surprised to see Bailey fall short of making the final 53.


  • TE Tre’ McKitty - 43.4
  • RB Isaiah Spiller - 46.7
  • WR Terrell Bynum - 48.8
  • WR John Hightower - 50.3
  • TE Stone Smartt - 50.8

McKitty has been amongst the worst five on the Chargers in two of the team’s three preseason games and when he wasn’t, he was still in the bottom 10. It’s been a rough few seasons for McKitty as a developmental prospect likely taken a bit too high and the hope that he’d get everything to click one day is all but gone after stringing together three lackluster performances against second and third-stringers.

After starting camp as a media darling for the Bolts, Hightower only played in two preseason games and wound up in the bottom five each time. It’s not likely he breaks through to the final 53.

Smartt likely makes the final 53



  • EDGE Carlo Kemp - 89.0
  • LB Daiyan Henley - 85.5
  • CB Cam Brown - 83.8
  • CB Tiawan Mullen - 79.1
  • LB Mikel Jones - 71.6

Kemp had the best preseason of all the backup edge rushers on the Chargers. He exclimated it with a near-elite performance against the 49ers and overall should be a lock for the practice squad if he didn’t already earn a shot with another team (he was the team’s first cut on Sunday).

Henley recorded his first interception as a Charger and was the team’s second-highest ranked player on Friday night. He continues to improve and it’d be one heck of a decision for him not to be the team’s LB3 during the 2023 season.

Brown was one of the team’s best corners during the preseason but that didn’t stop him from being one of the team’s first cuts on Sunday. It’s likely the team wanted to give him a head start to sign elsewhere if he has the chance.


  • LB Nathan East - 28.0
  • DT CJ Okoye - 28.4
  • DT Terrance Lang - 29.0
  • DT David Moa - 29.5
  • DT Christopher Hinton - 38.8

The bottom of the defensive barrel got real, real low against the Niners.

It wasn’t a good look for either Moa or Hinton to finish their preseasons with this level of performance as UDFA Jerrod Clark now has a chance to push for a spot with the final 53. Hinton had been one of the best interior players in August and it’s still likely he earns a spot. At this point, I believe Moa could be an odd man out.

Okoye will continue to be exempt from a practice squad spot as he gets to hang around via the International Players Program. The potential with him is real, it’s just so, so raw at this point. Give him the time, though, and the Chargers may have something special on their hands.