The Chargers lost to the San Francisco 49ers 15-10 on Sunday evening at SoFi Stadium.
In a game without several starters on both sides of the ball, Los Angeles had 12 penalties and 162 yards of total offense. As for the positives: three takeaways, a clutch 50-yard field goal, and a solid first half at the quarterback position. Here are five players who stood out:
QB Easton Stick
After going 7-of-7 for 63 yards in the second half last week against the Rams, it was Stick's turn to start against San Francisco. He went 10-of-14 for 85 yards, including a three-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Joshua Palmer in the second quarter. It was good enough for a quarterback rating of 110.7 against a stout 49ers defense.
"I think tonight compared to three days ago, I think we are a better football team," Stick said. "We learned a ton about ourselves and what it takes to compete against a really good football team because that team is great."
Head coach Brandon Staley said both Stick and Chase Daniel will play this Saturday in the preseason finale on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. He also added that this week of practice will be important in deciding whom the No. 2 quarterback will be behind Justin Herbert this season.
"We're still going through it," Staley said. "We're going to take it all the way to the end. I think they both competed well during camp."
CB Asante Samuel Jr.
The 49ers controlled the ball for over seven minutes on their opening possession of the game. On the 15th play of the drive, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's pass was intercepted by Samuel Jr. — his first in the NFL, albeit the preseason. It was a play the ball-hawking corner was accustomed to making at Florida State, and an example of why the Chargers drafted him in the second round.
"You saw some of the ball skills off the deflection, and that's a strength of his; being able to get you the ball," Staley said. "He's competing and he's understanding how we play — how to be more connected within our coverage systems. Understanding who he's playing against, situational stuff. Knowing what this means, what the split means. I've been pleased with him and excited about his progress."
After the game, Samuel Jr. said he feels more comfortable with the defensive scheme and where he's supposed to be within it, whether that's inside or outside.
He does have a preference, though.
"Outside, because that's where the number one receivers are — the outside," he said. "So, I want to go against the best."
OLB Kyler Fackrell
It didn't take long to notice Fackrell on Sunday. In limited snaps, he had a sack, two tackles and three quarterback hits.
"He's been rushing great all game," outside linebacker Joey Bosa said of Fackrell during the first half. "Of course, on the one that he was covering, he gets the sack on. He's been beating his guy all game. They've been doing a great job."
Fackrell and Uchenna Nwosu— who had three tackles on Sunday— are competing for the starting position opposite of Bosa.
"I want to play as much as possible," Fackrell said last week. "I know Uchenna and Joey are great players. It's hard to go 100 percent playing every snap, but we will have a decent rotation. I will be looking to contribute any way I can."
K Michael Badgley
Badgley delivered in his two first-half opportunities. The fourth-year kicker made his extra point attempt in the first quarter. Then with just over a minute remaining in the first half, Badgley nailed a 50-yard field goal that gave the Chargers a 10-2 lead.
"I thought Badgley competed really well this week in practices and in the game," Staley said. "He got plenty of lift on the field goal and both his kickoffs were where we expected them to be. The competition is bringing out the best in that position. Both guys competed well this week. We're going to see where it goes."
Tristan Vizcaino did not have any field goal or extra point attempts on Sunday after converting from 21 and 38 yards out last Saturday against the Rams.
LB Nick Niemann
For the second straight week, Niemann led the Chargers in tackles. The former Iowa standout had eight on Sunday.
He's also making his mark on special teams — a prerequisite for a rookie.
"I'm really excited about Nick," Staley said. "I think he's athletic. He had one tackle today where he was kind of lonely and it was one of those tackles from the side. Had he not made it, that ball would've gone a decent amount. ... He's also been a real factor on the kicking game. He started all core four special teams today.
"We're excited about his progress. He learns something every time he comes out. I expect him to continue to improve."
Niemann said his focus as a rookie has been to play fast and not worry about making mistakes.
"Just trying to have a nose for the ball and be around the ball as much as I can," he said. "I think that's what makes a good linebacker and a good football player on defense."
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