Chargers @ 49ers
Final Score: 49ers 22, Chargers 16
Writer: Dave Cherman (@DaveCherman on Twitter)
In a game that featured two offenses that haven’t quite lived up to the hype this year, it was the 49ers who ultimately came out on top thanks to their relentless pounding of the rock on the ground. Elijah Mitchell returned to the field for the first time since Week 1 and led the team in carries, but Christian McCaffery scored their lone rushing TD and was much more involved in the passing game.
On the Chargers’ side of the ball, their offense looked flat for much of the game without Keenan Allen or Mike Williams outside the hash marks. You can only dump it off to Austin Ekeler so many times before the defense starts to focus on it, and that’s exactly what the 49ers did. Justin Herbert was forced out briefly at the end of the first half after a big hit to the head, but he was fine. DeAndre Carter had himself a nice game. All in all, this game ultimately came down to the fact that the Chargers couldn’t stop the run on defense and couldn’t string together a long drive on offense when it mattered.
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert: 21/35, 196 Yards, TD, INT | 5 Carries, 22 Yards
Chase Daniel: 0/2
Justin Herbert is healthy. That’s the headline. He moves with textbook athleticism, even scrambling the way we’re used to seeing. That’s the good news. The bad news? He has nobody to throw to. DeAndre Carter and Josh Palmer are not guys who should be starting in 2 WR sets. Add in that the Chargers were starting 2 rookie tackles and it’s no surprise Herbert’s line left a bit to be desired. He simply had no time to throw all day and he doesn’t have anyone to throw to when he does have time. This is a bit of a lost season for the Chargers and Herbert. It’s worth noting that Herbert did have a few missed throws, himself, particularly in the middle of the first half, highlighted by a bad miss on a short 3rd down throw. Until the Chargers can block more consistently up front and get some speed to stretch the field, it’s going to be tough watching Herbert continue to check down all game, every game.
Austin Ekeler: 6 Carries, 24 Yards | 12 Targets, 7 Receptions, 39 Yards
Isaiah Spiller: 4 Carries, 3 Yards
Sony Michel: 1 Carry, 2 Yards
With both tackles out, there was not a lot of room to run for Austin Ekeler in this one. While you want to see more than 6 carries, with how badly this front was performing against San Francisco, the Chargers abandoned the run pretty quickly. Isaiah Spiller mixed in for a few carries, but did even worse than Ekeler. The positive news is that Ekeler continued to pick up a ton of catches in the short game, fighting well for extra yards but he couldn’t break a big one.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
DeAndre Carter: 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 64 Yards, TD
Joshua Palmer: 8 Targets, 3 Receptions, 44 Yards
Gerald Everett: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 23 Yards
Tre’ McKitty: 6 Targets, 3 Receptions, 21 Yards
Richard Rodgers: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 4 Yards
Zander Horvath: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 1 Yard
Michael Bandy: 1 Target
This was a disappointing follow-up to last week when Josh Palmer broke the century mark. He had a few good catches, but more missed opportunities than anything else. Gerald Everett had a nice athletic grab on 3rd and 4 early to keep the drive alive but missed most of the 2nd half with a groin injury, which really limited the Chargers’ offense. DeAndre Carter was WIDE open deep downfield for the opening TD, just finding a soft spot in the deep part of the zone. His speed flashed today, but he also picked up big 3rd downs, just as he did last week.
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo: 19/28, 240 Yards | 5 Carries, 3 Yards, TD
Jimmy G looked pretty comfortable under pressure, not committing a turnover and only taking 1 sack all night. He was generally accurate, picking up short yardage when it was given to him. He didn’t really take any deep shots, instead choosing to dink and dunk for short gains all night. But when that wins, there’s not really a need for deep shots.
Elijah Mitchell: 18 Carries, 89 Yards | 2 Targets, 1 Reception, -1 Yards
Christian McCaffrey: 14 Carries, 38 Yards, TD | 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 39 Yards
His fantasy managers are going to be furious at the usage, but Christian McCaffrey still played well in this one. He was consistently picking up big yards in space and his speed really popped off the screen. The plays that blew up generally weren’t his fault either. Elijah Mitchell on the other hand really looked good in the run game, powering through the second level with physicality. This running game is not fair with how versatile it is.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Deebo Samuel: 4 Carries, 27 Yards | 6 Targets, 2 Receptions, 24 Yards
Brandon Aiyuk: 7 Targets, 6 Receptions, 84 Yards, 1 Fumble (Lost)
Jauan Jennings: 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 40 Yards
Ray-Ray McCloud III: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 33 Yards
George Kittle: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 21 Yards
In his first game back, Deebo Samuel was utilized more as a back than a receiver, really falling invisible in the pass game. The game really belonged to Brandon Aiyuk, who routinely got open in the middle of the field, showing elite footwork. He did have a disastrous drop on an end zone look that, yes, could’ve been thrown a tad better, but when it hits your hands…. there are no excuses. Aiyuk also lost a fumble in the first half, but didn’t lose any playing time. George Kittle was nowhere to be found in the passing game, but flashed several times in the running game as a blocker. Jauan Jennings was the unsung hero, picking up a couple of BIG third downs. He’s not a big part of the offense, but he played very well when called upon.