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Bolts Ready for Primetime Showdown with 49ers

Week in Review Week 10

The Chargers are once again two games above .500 following their Week 9 win over the Falcons.

At 5-3, the Chargers prepare for another primetime game, as they will travel north to visit the 49ers on Sunday Night Football

Here's a breakdown of news from the Chargers 10th week of the season:

Monday: Chargers talk win over Falcons

In the first game since their bye week, the Chargers were able to leave Atlanta on Sunday with a 20-17 win.

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley mentioned that the team was ready for that kind of game and hopes to carry some momentum heading into Week 10.

"I think that the group that went to Atlanta was ready for that type of game," Staley said. "Any time that you can be in those close games against a team that is first place in their division, a team that has won a lot of quality games and beaten a lot of quality teams, I think that it gives you confidence that, 'Hey, we can go in here with this type of crew and be able to go close the game out.'

"I was really proud of that group because it took everybody yesterday, like I told you guys after the game. To get a road win like that against that type of team, I'm excited to carry that into this week," Staley later added.

Sunday's game got off to a rocky start, as the Chargers quickly fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter. From the second quarter on however, the Bolts allowed just seven points.

Cornerback Michael Davis talked about the defensive adjustments, as the bounce back came as a result of everyone playing connected.

"I think we just came together and just told each other, 'One play at a time," Davis said. "I know the first series looked pretty bad on us, but I think, overall, when we came back in the second quarter, we just had that 'next play' mentality, just a 'one play at a time' mentality.

"As long as were connected and playing one play at a time, we can accomplish anything," Davis later added.

A pair out of the Bolts five wins have come in walk-off fashion. No stranger to close games, wide receiver Joshua Palmer noted that almost every game in the NFL is close, so you need someone to step up and seal the win — something rookie kicker Cameron Dicker was able to do on Sunday.

"It's a great feeling when you win close like that. I wish we didn't have to win close like that," Palmer said. "I wish you could have blowouts every week, but it's not realistic in the NFL. Our kicker came alive. Dicker came alive and was able to seal it for us."

Both Palmer and Dicker were praised for their clutch performances by CBS Sports writer John Breech and NBC sportswriter Peter King on Monday, as the two made timely plays on the way to the win. To read the full article, click here.

Unfortunately for the Chargers, Sunday's win came at a cost, as Staley updated injuries suffered by tackle Trey Pipkins III and defensive lineman Austin Johnson on Sunday.

"Trey Pipkins [III] had kind of an aggravation of that MCL injury. He's going to be day-to-day," Staley said. "Austin Johnson has an injury to his MCL and a fracture to his knee, and he will be out for the season."

Tuesday: Bolts flexed to primetime

The NFL announced Tuesday morning that the Chargers Week 11 home matchup against the Chiefs would be moved from the afternoon slot to Sunday Night Football on NBC. Kickoff is slated for 5:20 p.m. PT.

With this move, the Bolts will now play on Sunday Night Football in Weeks 10 and 11. It will be the first time in franchise history they play consecutive weeks on Sunday night. The move also means that the Chargers are set to appear in a franchise-record six primetime games this season.

Officially halfway through the season, Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 starting lineups, with the Chargers coming in seventh — a drop from their preseason ranking of No. 3.

According to PFF's Brad Spielberger, the Bolts biggest reason for their fall comes from injuries, as it has plagued the team so far.

Spielberger wrote:

The injury bug has once again ravaged the Chargers in 2022, with wide receiver Keenan Allen not contributing since Week 1, wide receiver Mike Williams now out for an extended period, edge defender Joey Bosa out since Week 3 and cornerback JC Jackson lost for the season.

Still, the Chargers have had some bright spots, as running back Austin Ekeler has been on a touchdown frenzy since his slow start. The biggest X-factor for the Bolts, according to Spielberger, remains outside linebacker Joey Bosa's return, as it will serve as a boost to the Chargers defense.

To read the full breakdown, click here.

Wednesday: Bolts look to avoid slow starts

Wednesday morning got off to a hot start for the Chargers.

Following two made extra points and field goals against the Falcons, Dicker was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 9.

Dicker, who joined the team last Thursday, nailed game winning 37-yarder as time expired to give the Bolts the win. Dicker is the second Chargers specialist to win this weekly award this season, as Dustin Hopkins received it for Week 6.

Dicker will remain the Chargers kicker this week, as Hopkins and Taylor Bertolet continue to work their way back from injury.

"It will be the same as last week," Staley said. "Going into it with the thought of Cameron. Dustin is working his way back, making progress, same as Taylor."

Slow starts have been a talking point so far this year, as the Bolts once again went down double-digits to start the game against the Falcons. Staley talked about these slow starts during his media availability and what kind of adjustments could be made to remedy those kind of situations.

"I think I made the point after the game, but just structuring your practice," Staley said. "Making a couple of adjustments where we are out there as a team faster and making a couple of adjustments that way where early in the practice, you are in team [drills] and you are going. Maybe do that a little bit more, I think.

"Starting today, we made a couple of adjustments that way to focus on it, just like we had some adjustments that we made coming out of halftime," Staley added. "I want to make sure that our players know that we're going to make that a point of emphasis. Hopefully, we can start faster."

Defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day, who played against the 49ers a lot during his time with the Rams, knows that the team cannot afford to start off slow due to their physical nature and play. Focus at all times will be one of the many keys this Sunday.

"That's the way I look at it because I played them for four years, so I know what you gotta do," Joseph-Day. "You can't get caught moving, can't be caught looking at other things. You got to be locked in. You got to play fast."

Wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring), Mike Williams (ankle), Pipkins (knee), outside linebacker Chris Rumph II (knee), Khalil Mack (rest) and Hopkins (right hamstring) all did not participate in practice on Wednesday. Linebackers Amen Ogbongbemiga and Troy Reeder were limited.

Following Johnson's season-ending knee injury, the Chargers announced they had signed defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko to the active roster from the team's practice squad and placed Johnson on Injured Reserve. In addition, the Bolts signed defensive lineman Christopher Hinton and guard/tackle Austen Pleasants to the practice squad.

Chargers Senior Writer Eric Smith released his weekly mailbag on Wednesday, where he answered questions about Staley's coaching, injury timelines and more.

Thursday: What the Niners bring on both sides of the ball

The Chargers took the field Thursday for a padded practice ahead of their Week 10 matchup against the Niners.

Allowing the fewest rush yards per game, the 49ers defensive line wreaks havoc in the trenches. They also rush the passer at a high level, and Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi knows that in order to be able to be successful on offense, running the ball effectively will be key against this Niners front.

"We're always hoping that we can run the ball well," Lombardi said. "Game flow, obviously, has a lot to do with that. It's a team that has a really good pass rush and I think they are really hoping to be able to do that.

"That's what they want to do, and so the more that we can keep them in a run mode and make them hit blocks and not be able to just tee off on the pass rush, the better. I think it's an important part of the game," Lombardi added.

One of the key elements of San Francisco's front is Nick Bosa, the brother of Joey, who continues to be one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. At 8.5 sacks so far this year, Bosa is what Lombardi calls a "werewolf".

"Guys that are hard to block," Lombardi said. "His get-off, his athleticism. He's one of the best at it. A werewolf is a guy that you always need to be aware of where he is.

"He's definitely one of those defensive players that you have to game plan around," Lombardi added.

Flipping to the Chargers defensive side, Sunday will be the second straight week the team faces off against one of the better running teams in the league.

What makes the Niners different, however, is the addition of running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey's ability to be dynamic coupled with the way he's being used is something that Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill spoke about during his Thursday availability.

"They're finding ways to get him the ball in all aspects," Hill said. "Obviously, looking back at what he's done — getting him out of the backfield, lining him up as a receiver, even throwing him the ball — they're utilizing his skillset. It's just making them even more explosive."

In transactional news, the Chargers waived defensive lineman Jerry Tillery on Thursday.

For the first time since suffering his knee injury in Week 7, Rumph participated in practice on a limited basis. Ogbongbemiga and Reeder practiced in full on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. Tight end Tre McKitty was added to the injury report with a hamstring injury and was a limited participant in practice.

On Thursday, the Chargers and First We Feast announced a new, first-of-its-kind partnership for both brands, including programming, Truth or Dab - LA Chargers Edition, and the Hot Ones x LA Chargers Tailgate @ Eat Your Feed Fest '22. To watch the first episode of Truth or Dab featuring Kyle Van Noy and Austin Ekeler, click here.

Check out the best photos of the Bolts Wednesday practice at Hoag Performance Center

Friday: Final tune-up for Sunday Night Football

The Chargers took the field for the final time on Friday.

Aside from the game being on Sunday Night Football, outside linebacker Khalil Mack is excited for the game, as the amount of high-level talent on the field is something Mack looks forward to.

"I feel like it's just been a lot of different challenges throughout the year," Mack said.

"I'm just looking forward to it. I love playing guys that are doing the best work in the league," Mack later added.

One of those high-level players is 49ers left tackle Trent Williams, who has continued to make his mark as one of the best left tackles in the NFL. Mack relishes opportunities like this, as he enjoys going up against the best of the best.

"It's going to be good to go up against a guy like that," Mack said. "There are all types of intangibles when you think about football, and I feel like he has all of them.

"He can exert his will on everybody," Mack added. "He's a hell of a competitor. It's always fun going up against other good guys. It's going to be fun. I can't wait."

Earlier in the week when it was announced Johnson was lost for the year, the Chargers interior defensive line looked at this week's practice as a chance to step up in his absence.

A room with Joseph-Day, Morgan Fox, Otito Ogbonnia, Christian Covington and Breiden Fehoko, Sunday will be the first look at the Bolts interior defensive line with no Johnson.

Fehoko, who was signed to the active roster on Wednesday, will step in for the Bolts as he did last year. Staley spoke Friday about Fehoko and his role.

"From the minute I've got here, he's improved," Staley said. "I think last year when he got his opportunities, I thought he exceled in his role and this year the same way.

"Again, he's one of us, and that's important. He's going to go out there and play well on Sunday," Staley added later.

On the injury front, Pipkins did not participate in practice, but was listed as "QUESTIONABLE". Staley mentioned Pipkins as a "game-time decision" and if he is unable to go, it will be either Storm Norton or Foster Sarell who will get the nod at right tackle.

In additional game status, Allen, Williams and Hopkins were listed as "OUT" for Sunday's contest, while Rumph was listed as "DOUBTFUL".

Prior to Friday's practice, Chargers Senior Writer Eric Smith talked with Matt Maiocco, who covers the 49ers for NBC Sports Bay Area, to preview Sunday's game.

Members of the 49ers also talked about the Chargers ahead of their Week 10 primetime matchup. Check out what Niners said about the Bolts.

Smith also released his Final Thoughts ahead of the game against San Francisco, leading with the importance of the Chargers starting out fast against the 49ers.

Check out the best photos of the Chargers Thursday practice at Hoag Performance Center

Videos of the Week

All In: Episode 6 | No Flinch

The sixth episode of 'All In' titled 'No Flinch' follows the Chargers as they move to 5-3 despite a slew of injuries.

Mic'd Up | Kyle Van Noy

Chargers linebacker Kyle Van Noy was mic'd up during the Week 9 matchup vs the Atlanta Falcons.

Truth or Dab | Austin Ekeler and Kyle Van Noy

In the first Chargers edition of the Hot Ones special, Truth or Dab, watch as host Sean Evans drills the NFL stars and gives them two choices: tell the truth, or suffer the wrath of the Last Dab.

Playmakers | Melissa Stark Talks Return to Sidelines on Sunday Night Football

NBC Sports reporter joins Hayley Elwood on the latest edition of Playmakers podcast to discuss her new gig after 20 years away, why you're seeing in-game interviews, storylines she's watching between the Chargers and 49ers.

Chargers Weekly | Two Straight on "Sunday Night Football," Starting With the Niners

Matt "Money" Smith and Chris Hayre recap the Chargers Week 9 win over the Falcons and preview Sunday Night's game against the 49ers.

Tweets of the Week

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