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Three things: 49ers-Chargers

9/1/2011

Three things to watch for in the San Francisco 49ers' road game against the San Diego Chargers at 10 p.m. ET:

1. Manusky's intentions: The 49ers had all sorts of problems against the New Orleans Saints' blitzes to open the exhibition season. Pass-protection problems persisted against Houston last week even when the Texans weren't blitzing. The Chargers' defensive approach against San Francisco hinges on what their coordinator, Greg Manusky, has planned for his former team. Manusky had been the 49ers' defensive coordinator since 2007 until the team hired Jim Harbaugh as head coach in January. Vaughn Martin has three of the Chargers' seven sacks in the preseason. It's unclear how long each team's starters will be in the game.

2. Backup running backs: Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon are seeking to improve their standing behind starting running back Frank Gore. Hunter has 24 carries for 174 yards and a touchdown, highlighted by his 53-yard scoring run. Dixon has 27 carries for 84 yards. Xavier Omon could get extensive time in this game as well, although the starters will be on the field to begin the game.

3. Overall vibe. Exhibition results are meaningless. The games themselves carry value, particularly for unestablished teams seeking to build offensive rhythm. The 49ers -- and certainly their fans -- could use a positive experience on offense heading toward the Week 1 opener against Seattle.