NFL Nation: 2010 49ers-Chargers Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: Chargers 34, 49ers 7

December, 16, 2010
Thoughts on the Chargers' 34-7 victory over the 49ers on Thursday night in San Diego:

What it means: The Chargers put heat on first-place Kansas City and third-place Oakland with this Thursday night special. The Chargers -- who have won six of their past seven games and have lost just one December game since 2005 -- are 8-6. Kansas City is 8-5 heading into a game in St. Louis on Sunday. Oakland is 6-7 heading into a home game against Denver. If the Chargers win their final two games and the Chiefs stumble once in their final three games, the Chargers will win their fifth straight AFC West title. If the Raiders win their final three games, they’ll need San Diego to lose at least once regardless of what Kansas City does to stay in the division picture.

Memo to AFC: Root for the Chiefs: The rest of the AFC should be worried after what the Chargers showed the past four days. San Diego has a balanced attack, and it plays shutdown defense. The Chargers have been near the top of the NFL in total offense and total defense the entire season. The special teams issues have been cleaned up for the most part, and San Diego isn’t killing itself with dumb mistakes. When they are clicking, the Chargers are as strong as any team in the NFL. If San Diego squeezes by the Chiefs to win the division, it will be a major threat in the AFC. Fans of any team in the AFC should ask themselves this: Do you want your team playing San Diego in January? I don’t think so. On any given day, San Diego can hang with New England and Pittsburgh in the postseason.

Tomorrow’s talker: San Diego’s defense is honed in. The 49ers didn’t score until late in the game. The Chargers almost went two games without allowing a point. San Diego shut out Kansas City, 31-0, in Week 14. That’s a whole lot of dominating in a four-day stretch.

Welcome back, Mr. Jackson: San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson showed what kind of impact he can have on this offense. In his third game back from his holdout, the 2009 Pro Bowl player was tremendous. He caught three touchdown passes. With star tight end Antonio Gates missing four of the past six games -- including the past two games -- with a nagging foot injury, Jackson gives quarterback Philip Rivers another go-to option down the stretch. Jackson will probably leave as a free agent after the season. But a performance like this may make the Chargers at least think about a long-term deal or perhaps even franchise him in the offseason. He is a tremendous weapon.

Trending: Rivers kept his pass total under 30 and, once again, the Chargers won. In each of the Chargers’ six losses, Rivers threw more than 30 times. Rivers completed 19 of 25 passes for 273 yards. He was brilliant.

What’s next: The Chargers have two games remaining, both on the road. They play at Cincinnati on Dec. 26 on 10 days' rest and then close out the season in Denver. The Bengals and Broncos have a combined 5-21 record.

Wrap-up: Chargers 34, 49ers 7

December, 16, 2010
Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 34-7 road defeat against the San Diego Chargers in Week 15:

What it means: The 49ers fell to 5-9, meaning they will finish with a losing record after going 8-8 last season. Taking a step backward makes it tougher for coach Mike Singletary to justify keeping his job. Beating the Chargers in San Diego was a long shot, however, and the team remains in the NFC West race. The 49ers can claim a share of first place by beating St. Louis in Week 16 if Seattle loses its next two (at home against Atlanta, at Tampa Bay) and Kansas City beats the Rams.

What I liked: The temperature at kickoff was 56 degrees, ideal for football.

What I didn't like: This game, like the 49ers' season, was all about what could have been -- but was not. Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks could have picked off Philip Rivers. He dropped the ball. Defensive end Justin Smith could have helped the 49ers' weather Rivers. He suffered a first-half disqualification. Alex Smith could have scored an early rushing touchdown. Replay said otherwise. Tight end Delanie Walker could have held onto the ball. He dropped it. Ted Ginn Jr. could have had an 85-yard kickoff return for a score. A facemask penalty nullified it.

Tomorrow's Talker: More of the same. Should coach Mike Singletary keep his job? What about Alex Smith?

Critical Call: Singletary went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with San Diego leading 7-0 right after officials overturned Smith's apparent touchdown run. The 49ers failed to score. The risk seemed worth it because the 49ers were faring pretty well on the ground and they weren't going to win the game with field goals. Earlier in the drive, Singletary took a field goal off the scoreboard by accepting a penalty.

Trending: The 49ers' defense continues to give up big plays. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' receivers took their turn two weeks ago. Rivers had his way Thursday night. He found Vincent Jackson for three scoring receptions, including a 58-yarder. Rivers averaged 10.9 yards per pass attempt.

Offense shut down: The 49ers managed only 192 yards, barely more than the season-low 189 yards they gained during a 21-0 defeat to Tampa Bay. Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis caught one pass, a late grab for 4 yards, after catching at least one scoring pass in five consecutive Alex Smith starts.

What's next: The 49ers visit St. Louis in Week 16.



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