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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. 49ers
The San Diego Chargers close out the 2013 preseason with a match against their interstate rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. The Bolts look to end the exhibition season on a two game winning streak, building momentum heading into Week 1’s Monday night season opener against the Houston Texans. Tickets still remain for this Thursday’s game. Click here to purchase.
A Look Back At Last Week
Head coach Mike McCoy earned his first ever win as head coach when San Diego beat the Arizona Cardinals in convincing fashion, 24-7. The Bolts were efficient on offense, scoring touchdowns on 13 and 14-play drives to jump out to a 14-0 lead at halftime. Ryan Mathews rushed for a game-high 57 yards and a touchdown and the team went 8-of-15 on third-down opportunities. On the flip side, San Diego’s defense held Arizona to just 3-of-12 on third down. Not to be outdone, the Chargers special teams unit had a big day as well. Darrell Stuckey blocked a punt, rookie Kwame Geathers blocked a field goal and fellow rookie Keenan Allen returned a punt 44 yards.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
The Chargers brought in a new offensive coordinator in Ken Whisenhunt, who spent the previous six seasons at the helm of the Arizona Cardinals. Leading the attack is Philip Rivers, the venerable quarterback entering his 10th season under center. In 2012, he recorded his fifth-straight 3,500-yard season, throwing for 3,606 yards and 26 touchdowns. Also returning are last year’s leading rusher, Ryan Mathews as well as eight-time Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates. The biggest change offensively is to the offensive line as only two holdovers (Nick Hardwick and Jeromey Clary) from last year’s front five are back, though Clary is moving to a new position (right guard). The line features three newcomers, including right tackle D.J. Fluker, the team’s top pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
On Offense for the 49ers
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh’s squad returns eight starters on offense, including all five starters on their offensive line and dynamic quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who engineers the 49ers’ “Pistol” offense. Kaepernick has a plethora of targets to choose from, including tight end Vernon Davis and former Baltimore Ravens standout, Anquan Boldin, who joined the 49ers this year as a free agent. Last year’s leading receiver, Michael Crabtree (85 receptions for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns) is currently on the “Physically Unable to Perform” list. The 49ers return leading rusher Frank Gore, who racked up 1,214 yards and eight touchdowns on 258 carries in 2012.
On Defense for the Chargers
John Pagano returns for his second year as defensive coordinator, looking to build upon an impressive 2012. Some of the brightest young defensive linemen in the league constitute the front three in the form of Corey Liuget, Cam Thomas and Kendall Reyes. At inside linebacker, the team’s second-leading tackler each of the past two seasons returns in Donald Butler. He’ll be lined up alongside Notre Dame Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o, the team’s second-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft. At outside linebacker, veteran strong-side linebacker Jarret Johnson is joined by future Hall-of-Fame veteran Dwight Freeney, the Indianapolis Colts’ all-time sacks leader. In the secondary, Derek Cox and Shareece Wright man the cornerback slots while 2012’s leading tackler Eric Weddle anchors the safety position alongside Marcus Gilchrist.
On Defense for the 49ers
San Francisco returns 10 starters and their 11th, former Chargers safety C.J. Spillman, saw action in all 16 games a season ago. The 49ers ranked third in the NFL in total defense in 2012, led by linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, who paced the squad with 183 and 171 tackles, respectively. Fellow linebacker Aldon Smith ranked second in the NFL with 19.5 sacks.
The Chargers and 49ers have met 41 times in the preseason and San Francisco holds a slight 21-20 series edge. This year’s contest will mark the 12th-straight year that the Chargers and 49ers have closed out the preseason. San Francisco also leads the regular season series by one game, 7-6.
By the Numbers
In 2012, the Chargers ranked 31st in total offense (297.2 yards per game), 24th in passing (205.9 ypg), 27th in rushing (91.3 ypg) and 20th in points (21.9). The 49ers ranked 11th in total offense (361.8 ypg), 23rd in passing (206.1 ypg), fourth in rushing (155.7 ypg) and 11 in points (24.8).
Defensively, the Bolts ranked ninth in total defense (326.4 ypg), 18th in passing (230.1 ypg), sixth in rushing (96.4 ypg) and 16th in points allowed (21.9). San Francisco ranked third in total defense (294.4 ypg), fourth in passing (200.2 ypg), fourth in rushing (94.2 ypg) and second in points allowed (17.1).
A Look Back at 2012
Antonio Gates caught seven touchdown passes to raise his career total to 83 and became the franchise’s all-time leader in that category, surpassing Hall of Fame wide receiver Lance Alworth. Gates extended his streak of at least seven touchdown catches to nine seasons.
Philip Rivers passed for 3,606 yards and 26 touchdowns to extend his team-record streaks of 3,500-yards passing and 25 touchdowns to five seasons. Only five quarterbacks in NFL history can claim five or more consecutive seasons with at least 25 touchdown passes. That list includes Peyton Manning (1998-2012), Brett Favre (1994- 98), Dan Marino (1984-88), Drew Brees (2006-12) and Aaron Rodgers (2008-12). Rivers also passed John Hadl’s career yardage total during the season to become the second-most prolific passer in team history. Rivers finished the season with the NFL’s seventh-best completion percentage (64.1) and he is the team’s career leader in that category (63.6).
Malcom Floyd caught a career-high 56 passes and was closing in on a new season high for yards before an ankle injury sidelined him the last two games.
Ronnie Brown caught a career-high 49 passes. As a team, Chargers’ running backs caught 123 passes this season, second in the NFL only to New Orleans’ 140.
The Chargers’ defense had a team record-tying 11 sacks in a Dec. 23 win against the New York Jets, including 3.5 from rookie Kendall Reyes, the most by a Chargers rookie since 1986, and two from Corey Liuget. Reyes, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2012, finished the year third on the team with 5.5 sacks, while Liuget, the squad’s top pick in the 2011 draft, finished the year second on the squad with seven. For the season, Reyes paced the defensive line with 19 quarterback pressures and 15 quarterback hits, while Liuget ended the year as the defensive line’s leader in sacks, tackles (61), tackles for loss (15) and passes defensed (9).
Eric Weddle led the team in tackles (111) for the first time in his career and he tied for the team lead with three interceptions. The Chargers scored a total of seven defensive touchdowns in 2012, second in the NFL to Chicago’s 12, and two shy of the San Diego team record. The 1961 Chargers returned nine interceptions for touchdowns to set the mark while last year the Bolts returned five interceptions and two fumbles for scores.
The Chargers were in virtually every game they played in 2012. Their seven wins came by an average of 13.4 points, while all but two losses were close. Only defeats to Atlanta and Carolina were by margins greater than 11 points, while San Diego’s other defeats were by margins of 7, 11, 1, 10, 3, 3 and 7 points.
Thanks to the powerful right leg of Mike Scifres and his pin-point accuracy, the Chargers allowed only 9.1 yards per punt return in 2012. Scifres posted a 40.6- yard net punting average, the second-highest season average in team history. It went along nicely with a team record 48.3-yard gross average that was third in the NFL and shattered the previous team mark of 46.7 (min. 50 attempts), which Scifres had set in 2010.
Nick Novak made 18 of 20 field goals in 2012, the third-highest conversion rate for a season (90.0%) in team history. Novak’s only two misses this season were also his longest attempts of the year from 54 and 55 yards.
Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy was born in San Francisco and grew up in Novato.
Linebackers coach Joe Barry spent the 2000 season as a defensive quality control coach for the 49ers.
Tight ends coach Jason Michael was an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach for the 49ers during the 2009-10 seasons.
CBS (KFMB, Channel 8 in San Diego and KCBS, Channel 2 in Los Angeles and Orange County) – Dan Fouts (play-by-play) and Billy Ray Smith (analyst)
Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego) and AM 570 KLAC (Los Angeles & Orange County) – Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Hank Bauer (analyst) and Mike Costa (sideline reporter)
Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego) and KWKW 1330 AM (Los Angeles) – Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Dante Lazcano (analyst)