The 4th and final game of the preseason for the 49ers was all about the battle of the backups and trying to make the 53 man roster. It was also about Colin Kaepernick proving why he is the #2 QB on the team.
The San Francisco 49ers finished the preseason with a strong performance at home against the San Diego Chargers 35-3. Alex Smith was in for a handful of plays on that first series but quickly came out before he threw a pass so that Colin Kaepernick can prove how good he is. Kaepernick went 12/18 with 158 passing yards and 2 passing TDs.
He only ran the ball once for 7 yards but it was the feet along with the arm that stole the show. Both of his TD passes came while scrambling. The first one thrown to Delanie Walker as Walker spun his way in a 32 yard score put them up 14-0. Then the second to A.J. Jenkins for a 12 yard TD in the back of the endzone to make it 21-0. A.J. Jenkins himself had a fine day getting 4 receptions for 59 yards and that TD catch.
The defense also showed it’s worth tonight as it caused two turnovers early on. The first one was a Antonio Gates fumble in the 1st quarter caused by 49ers Safety C.J. Spillman and picked up by Free Safety Trenton Robinson. That one led to the first TD pass by Kaepernick. The other came later in the 1st quarter when 49er Safety Darcel McBath picked off Phillip Rivers of the Chargers to end their scoring threat. That was also the last time we saw Rivers as he was in for 2 drives.
It was 21-0 as the 2nd half presumed and the focus was shifted to the battle between 49ers’ Josh Johnson and Scott Tolzien for the #3 spot and most likely a spot on the team. They alternated between almost every drive and Johnson seemed to win the battle.
While Tolzien struggled to complete passes, Johnson managed to pick apart the Chargers defense in the 3rd quarter. Johnson got a little lucky when his first pass went for a TD pass to Nathan Palmer for 51 yards. Palmer caught that quick pass to the left and the defenders just couldn’t catch up with him. The next drive for the 49ers had Johnson leading them down field for a 2 yard TD pass to TE Garrett Celek in the back of the endzone to make it 35-0.
Josh Johnson had a great audition for the #3 spot going 9/14 with 125 passing yards and those 2 TD passes. Johnson also made some impressive running plays where he seemed to avoid getting sacked and turned it into positive yards. Johnson had 50 yards on the ground with 5 carries.
Scott Tolzien, however, might not make the team despite being the favorite by many to do so. Tolzien was just 3/8 with 42 passing yards and was picked off by Chargers Linebacker Bront Bird at the line of scrimmage.
The 49ers running attack was led largely by running back Anthony Dixon who might’ve pounded his way onto the team for the regular season. He carried the ball 12 times for 55 yards and one TD to put the first points on the board. He seemed to have some extra motivation in tonight’s game.
Other running backs for the 49ers like LaMichael James were not featured as often. James seemed to have enough troubled returning punts in place of the injured Ted Ginn Jr. Kyle Willaims will likely be returning punts in the regular season if Ginn is not healthy.
The 49ers defense held the Chargers down for the most part allowing just 244 total yards while the 49ers offense had 495 total yards. A large part of that, of course, was due to the fact Phillip Rivers was only in for two drives. Charlie Whitehurst and Jarrett Lee did not fill the void left by Rivers at all with both of them throwing under 50% completion and both unable to get over a 100 yards of passing combined. The Chargers’ only 3 points came off a 27 Nate Kaeding FG after Tolzien’s INT mentioned earlier.
The 49ers close the preseason with a bang at Candlestick. While we didn’t get to see the starters for very long, the backups seemed to inspire confidence for the team. Will it carry over for the season opener in Green Bay? The faithful sure hope so.
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Written by Daniel Trucios