Here is the good, bad and the ugly from the Chargers 21-7 preseason loss to the 49ers.
After a poor game against Seattle the week before, Corey Liuget took it personal and was a monster on the field. He stacked the stat sheet and proved to be the best player in the game while he was out there. Liuget had four tackles (two of those tackles for a loss), a strip-sack, two QB hits, a batted pass, a hurry and took 49ers Pro Bowl left guard Mike Iupati to the cleaners. Corey Liuget may be the single most important player for the Chargers on defense behind Eric Weddle and showed his potential and much more on Sunday. Getting defensive pressure up front is where the Chargers are projected to be the weakest so it’s going to take performances like this from Liuget for the Bolts to succeed in the regular season.
Telesco is proving to have a keen eye for talent or is fond of old players from his former organization. Either way, he made one of the most under the radar singings of the offseason in Kavell Conner. Conner played a bulk of his minutes in the Chargers third preseason game in the absence of Manti Te’o and showed that he is a bruiser. He led the team in tackles with seven and made hits that 49er receivers are still feeling this morning. The one knock on Conner in the game was his holding penalty on Vernon Davis, but he made up for it on the next play by standing up the running back up the middle for a short gain. What play stood out most to me was not his big hit on Quinton Patton that knocked his helmet off or the wood he laid on David Reed across the middle to break up a pass, but rather staying in Kasim Osgood’s hip pocket on a crossing pattern. Conner tackled him short of the first down marker bringing up a fourth down. The former Colt will see major minutes with or without Te’o in the lineup, and he showed he can contribute in pass coverage as well as run support.
Rivers was rolling from the start of the game and finished 9/10 for 85 yards and a TD pass. After his first touchdown pass to Ryan Mathews was called off by a block in the back, Rivers came back and completed a beautiful seam route to Antonio Gates for the touchdown. Rivers lone incompletion came off a Ladarius Green drop, and he proved near-perfect in an otherwise unimaginative preseason offensive gameplan. He also finished the game with a nice grab in front of Antonio Gates on the sideline on an errant pass, but was not awarded the catch by the 49ers bookkeeper, that’s hometown bias for you.
Whether he was slowed by the injury he suffered in practice earlier in the week to his right leg or not, Steve Williams struggled in this game. It began with an illegal contact penalty while giving up a 17-yard catch to backup tight end Vance McDonald. Williams also struggled with the speed of Bruce Ellington who ran across his face for a completion — a route and catch that was made purely on being faster than Williams. One of the most costly catches of the game was a 10-yard grab Williams gave up to Quinton Patton on 3rd and 10 on the Chargers 16-yard line. After Williams gave up the first down, the 49ers scored a touchdown on the next play giving San Francisco the lead 10-7. Williams has put his speed and coverage skills on display in the first two preseason games so we shouldn’t read too much into it, but look for Steve Williams to bounce back against Arizona especially with Jason Verrett finally seeing some playing time.