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Upon Further Review: Five Lessons from the 49ers Game

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Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers’ 23-21 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

1. Kickers on Point – Caleb Sturgis and Roberto Aguayo have been in the limelight from the moment training camp began. Thus, it’s only fitting that the preseason finale gave the two kickers one last chance to prove they deserve the job. The good news is both players came through with flying colors. Sturgis connected on his lone field goal attempt from 36 yards out as well as his only extra point attempt following Andre Patton’s touchdown. Meanwhile, Aguayo made a pair of field goals (36, 26) and one extra point, highlighted by the game-winner as time expired. After the game, Head Coach Anthony Lynn praised both kickers’ performances this summer:

“Both guys have kicked extremely well the past couple of weeks, and it’s been a hell of a competition. We brought Caleb in here to be our kicker. The last couple of weeks, he showed that he can do that with his kickoffs (and) field goals. And Roberto, I take my hat off to him. He came in, he competed (and) he was consistent. We have some things to talk about, but I’m proud of both of those guys (for) the way they competed.”

2. Lamp Lights Up – It’s been a long time coming for Forrest Lamp, who appeared in his first game since playing in the 2016 Boca Raton Bowl for Western Kentucky. Lamp suffered a season-ending knee injury as a rookie early in training camp a year ago, so it was a welcomed sight to see him starting at right guard against the 49ers. It’s understandable that Lamp would have some rust after a lengthy absence, but Lynn noted the guard got stronger as the game went on:

“He played a lot. A lot more than I thought he was going to play, but he wanted to go back in. Forrest is trying to get the rust off, and we’re going to study tape to see how well he played tonight. I thought he got better as the game went on though, I know that for sure…Physically, he held up fine. It’s just a matter of getting him into game shape.”

3. Landrum Unleashed – While Lamp was injured on the third day of training camp a year ago, Chris Landrum suffered a season-ending injury on day two. The edge rusher made quite the impression in 2016 as an undrafted free agent, and he unleashed his frustration of having to miss all of his 2017 campaign vs. the 49ers. Landrum had a pair of first-half sacks, bringing his team-leading total to three on the year. His second sack resulted in a fumble as he hit Nick Mullens so hard the ball popped loose. DT Steven Richardson fell on it, giving the Chargers possession deep in San Francisco territory. Overall, the defensive end finished the game with three tackles, two sacks, two QB hits, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. While the Bolts are loaded with two of the premier pass rushers in the NFL, Landrum has made his case to be a valuable option in addition to the pair of Pro Bowlers. In fact, Lynn noted that this was an important preseason for him during his post-game press conference:

“Absolutely. I would say that because I hadn’t seen Chris play in pads (before this month), so this was my first time seeing Chris playing in pads in live situations. He impressed in practice (and) he impressed in the other three preseason games. He had an outstanding camp.”

4. Move the Chains – It didn’t matter that Philip Rivers didn’t play in the fourth preseason game as the Bolts’ other three QBs had success moving the ball. Geno Smith led the Chargers on a pair of early field goal drives, using his feet as well as his arm to march the Bolts into scoring position. Meanwhile, Cardale Jones guided L.A. to a pair of touchdowns while Nic Shimonek orchestrated the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. The Chargers were also effective on the ground, running the ball 31 times for 138 yards to average 4.5 yards per carry. After the game, Geremy Davis assessed the performance of the offensive as a whole:

“I think one thing we did really well was control the penalties a lot better than we did the first three games. I think we did a good job moving the ball. We’d obviously like to turn those field goals into touchdowns, but overall, we got the team win so that’s great.”

5. Timely Takeaways – Every single takeaway is important, but some are more timely than others. Both turnovers the Bolts forced vs. the 49ers fell into the latter category as they set the offense up in the red zone. The first was on Landrum’s strip-sack, which led to a 36-yard Caleb Sturgis field goal. The second came early in the second half when D’Juan Hines forced a fumble on the first snap of the third quarter. Tony Brown pounced on it, returning it to the 49ers’ 10-yard line. Three plays later, Geno Smith found Andre Patton in the end zone to give L.A. a 20-7 lead. Defensive takeaways were hallmark of the Bolts’ defense a year ago, so hopefully Gus Bradley’s unit can continue to force them in droves as the Chargers enter the season opener next week vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

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