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Isaiah Spiller Making Progress in 1st NFL Season

Spiller FTP 11.10

Below are three takeaways from Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi, Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill and running back Isaiah Spiller from Thursday's media sessions:

Spiller sees increased snaps against Atlanta

In Week 9, rookie running back Isaiah Spiller saw the most game action he has had in his young career.

Logging the second most snaps at running back (13), Spiller was able to see the field quite a bit for the first time this season against the Falcons.

Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi on Thursday talked about Spiller's performance.

"I thought he ran hard," Lombardi said. "He's had a good week of practice, so I'm proud of the way that he's done. Picked up a pressure and stoned a linebacker.

"I was really happy with the way he played," Lombardi added.

On Thursday, Spiller talked about his increased role.

"Just grateful for the opportunity God gave me," Spiller said. "I've been working, so just glad I can really contribute to the team. I'm healthy now, so just ready to go."

Lombardi mentioned Spiller's pass protection as being another area that he has improved in, evident in one particular play where the young running back stood up Falcons linebacker Troy Andersen.

Spiller has worked on a lot of the aspects of pass protection even when he didn't see the field, and it has allowed him to show it once he is between the white lines.

"Working on my technique, working on being inside, my hands, the way approach a guy, looking at the blocks, protections," Spiller said. "That's been a really big part in my process even when I wasn't playing up to now.

"I think that just kind of shows what I've been doing in practice, and it showed on the game days," Spiller added.

Getting the first carry of his career two weeks ago, Spiller was able to show a little more this past Sunday, as he finished with seven carries for 29 yards — the longest run being of seven yards.

There is one particular run that stands out to Spiller however, and it came on a second-and-3 play which he gained five yards.

While Spiller did end up getting the first down, he looks at that run as one that got away, as there was a chance he could've broken it for a big gain. Still, Spiller hopes to get another opportunity next time to make it right.

"The way the play was set up, everyone had a single block," Spiller said about that play. "My 'backer, the read, was on my back side and it literally opened up and I was kind of got a little bright eyed.

"But hopefully I can get something like that again. I won't stumble next time. I'm glad I got the first down still," Spiller added.

Chargers prepare for "werewolf" in Nick Bosa

As Chargers outside linebacker Joey Bosa recovers from his groin injury suffered early in the season, the meeting between Bosa brothers will have to wait.

Still, the Bolts are preparing to face off against his brother, Nick, for the first time.

Nick Bosa, a top-three draft pick just like his brother, has continued to be a force for the 49ers off of the edge. He's currently tied for second-most sacks in the league with 8.5, and has established himself as one of the best defensive players in the NFL since he entered the league.

Lombardi described Bosa as a "werewolf", a term he uses to describe defensive players who are the best of the best.

"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.

Bosa and the rest of the 49ers defensive line have been one of the better groups in the league in recent years — and this year is no different.

Ranking in the top 10 in sacks and quarterback hurry percentage, a disruptive defensive line group awaits the Bolts.

The 49ers also allow the fewest rush yards per game. Lombardi is well-aware of that, as he hopes to be able to get the run game going and spell some of the pressure brought by Bosa and company.

"It's a team that has a really good pass rush and I think they are really hoping to be able to do that," Lombardi said. "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."

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

Hill: McCaffrey makes Niners 'even more explosive'

When the schedule was released back in May, the Chargers knew that traveling to face the 49ers would be a challenge.

What they didn't know at the time was that they would also have to prepare for one of the league's top running backs in Christian McCaffrey, who was traded to San Francisco before the trade deadline.

Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill talked about McCaffrey and how his usage makes him dynamic.

"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."

Hill knows that McCaffrey is capable of doing many things at a high-level while he is on the field, which is why he hopes to keep it as organized in preparation for him and the 49ers offense.

"I think the biggest thing that we've been talking about is trying to keep it simple on our end as much as possible," Hill said. "At least that allows the guys to play fast.

"With so much adjusting, in and out of different personnel, it's hard to keep track of those guys, but if we can play our scheme the way that we want, we feel good about the matchups we have on Sunday night," Hill added.

McCaffrey has only played in two games with the 49ers, which creates another layer in the defense's preparation.

Having not seen McCaffrey and 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel on the field aside from a number of snaps, Hill talked about how that preparation has been like if Samuel and other 49ers weapons return on Sunday.

"We're expecting all of those guys to be up, even [49ers fullback Kyle] Juszczyk," Hill said. "We're preparing for all of those guys to play. We're not anticipating that they won't be out there. It's a lot of skill everywhere.

"I think that the biggest thing that we have to do is make sure that we're just playing our scheme better. We really have to focus on ourselves this week," Hill added.

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