Upon Further Review: Five Lessons from the 49ers Game

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Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers’ 29-27 win over the San Francisco 49ers, presented by Select Physical Therapy.

1. Ugly Wins Can Be the Prettiest – There’s something to be said about not playing your best and still gutting out a win. That’s exactly what the Bolts did Sunday against the 49ers, overcoming a slew of mistakes and sloppy play to pull out the victory. A slow start on both sides of the ball put L.A. in a quick 14-0 hole, but the Chargers never blinked. Thus, as fun as blowout wins can be when firing on all cylinders, the type of win the team pulled out on Sunday can actually be more galvanizing. It shows that on days you aren’t at your best, you still have the character and grit to get the W. Just ask Casey Hayward how important it is to have the kind of win the team pulled out on Sunday:

“We have to find a way to win these types of games, and that’s what we did today. You look at past years and we’d find a way to lose those close games. Today we did a great job of winning. It’s hard to win in this league. Sometimes, you’ve got to will yourself to win these types of games, and we did that.”

2. Melvin Gordon is Ridiculous – Gordon didn’t have 100 missed tackles on Sunday. It only felt that way. The fourth-year running back really has taken his game to new heights, emerging as a truly special player. Number 28 logged his first 100-yard game this season, carrying the ball 15 times against a stingy San Francisco defense for 104 yards, good for a 6.9 yards per carry average. Gordon also chipped in as a receiver, tying Keenan Allen with a game-high seven catches for 55 yards and one touchdown. The running back has been an end zone magnet, ranking fourth in the league this year and first in the AFC among non-kickers with 34 total points. Yet more impressive than the stats was the way Gordon ran roughshod over the 49ers defense. He simply refused to go down, infusing life into the entire team when they needed it the most. In fact, Philip Rivers couldn’t have been more effusive in his praise of the running back after the game:

“He was awesome. Credit to him. I think when he runs like that, it gives juice to the huddle and the offensive line when they see him running back there and scrapping for yards like he was. I think it gives juice to the whole team. It was an all-around gritty performance by him… He hit it awfully hard, and the guys in front did a nice job. They’re one of the top defenses in the league, and we averaged (just under) five yards a carry, which is awesome. Melvin ran super hard. I know it gives the whole sideline, everybody, a boost when they just see the effort that he gives.”

3. Dynamic Duo is Really Something Special – The Melvin Gordon-Austin Ekeler combination has been outstanding this year, but it’s flown under the radar just how special they’ve been. In addition to the aforementioned huge game by Gordon, Ekeler had 10 total touches for 56 yards and one touchdown catch. Split out wide, Ekeler beat his man with a stutter step before catching a bullet in stride from Rivers in the end zone. It marked the first time that two Chargers running backs caught touchdowns in the same game since Nov. 22, 2010 vs. Denver (Darren Sproles and Jacob Hester).  Meanwhile, the catch was Ekeler’s fifth touchdown reception of his career, making him the first undrafted running back with five or more touchdown catches in his first two seasons since 1966. After the game, Ekeler credited Gordon for raising the bar so high as he knows he must play at a high level to match the veteran if he wants to see the field:

“Mel sets the bar so high, I just know to get on the field, I’ve got to play at a high level, too. I admire him, what he’s doing. He had a heck of a game today, and we’re going to keep trying to be the best duo in the league.”

4. Smart and Sound Football – It doesn’t matter how well a team is playing if they aren’t playing disciplined. At the quarter pole of the season, the Bolts have been extremely sound, much to the delight of Head Coach Anthony Lynn. Los Angeles has had only 22 penalties accepted against them while the league average is 28. That mark is sixth-fewest penalties accepted in the league. Meanwhile, in terms of penalty yards, the 169 enforced against the Chargers is the fourth-best mark in the league. The average among all 32 teams is 239. Thus, you can understand why Lynn praised the team’s discipline on Sunday:

“That’s a big emphasis on this football team—to play smart football. I think right now, before this game, we were number three in this league with the least amount of penalties. Our goal is to be number one. That’s been an emphasis from our coaches and our players are executing.”

5. A Mixed Bag on Special Teams – It was an uneven day for the kicking game, but the truth is the Bolts likely wouldn’t have pulled out the win if not for special teams. Desmond King had a pair of terrific punt returns, leading to 10 points. His electric return in the final seconds of the first half allowed the Chargers to tie the game at 17 all. In addition, the team had strong coverage to pin the 49ers deep in their own territory. Drew Kaser also dropped in a perfect 40-yard punt with 3:57 left in the game that was down at the San Francisco seven. However, Caleb Sturgis struggled, missing a pair of extra points and a 54-yard field goal. After the game, Lynn said how all three phases contributed to the victory, while Rivers weighed in on the field goal situation:

“I threw an interception for a touchdown today and I don’t like anybody saying anything to me. It’s one of those, ‘Hey we’re fine, we’re fine.’ It’s like, I know we will be fine but it’s not okay. I don’t know kicking, what it feels like. I know it’s a mental deal. You spray one with water, I guess, off a tee (playing golf). I don’t really want to say anything. I really don’t know where the next is going. Not to make light of it, it’s a serious deal and I know the work that the Caleb has put in. He’s been consistent really, through practice, I haven’t seen him miss one in a while. It is somewhat frustrating, it just puts a damper on the drive, but we were able to overcome it today, like we were able to overcome an interception for a touchdown. We would never have been in that situation had I not thrown it to the other team, as well. Hopefully it gets ironed out.”

Five Tips on Managing a Stress Fracture

Stress fractures occur from overuse, whether it is due to increasing your running mileage too quickly or jumping back into your sport after taking an extended break. Here are some factors that a physical therapist can help you identify that may help you recover faster and return to your sport a little wiser.

  1. Biomechanical faults: A leg length discrepancy, muscle strength imbalances and/or limitations in your flexibility, may have contributed to your stress fracture. Letting these go unchecked may lead you back to being on the sidelines with another injury.
  2. Inappropriate shoe wear: Are you choosing your athletic shoes for functional, comfort or style? Your shoes can include all of these factors while helping provide the appropriate support while you run. 
  3. Orthotics: Orthotics can help provide support and additional cushioning whenever you take a step. This can lessen the forces on your legs, including reducing compressive loads on the stress fracture.
  4. Active rest: While you are recovering from a stress fracture, you will need to take a break from running. Working with a physical therapist can help keep your aerobic level up by using a gravity assisted treadmill, such as the AlterG®, cycling or deep water running.
  5. Nutrition: Consult your physician regarding adequate calcium and Vitamin D levels which are needed for bone healing after a stress fracture.

For more health and wellness tips, or to request a complimentary consultation with Select Physical Therapy, please visit selectphysicaltherapy.com today!

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