49ers vs. Chargers: Alex Smith's Strong First Quarter Sets Niners Up For 20-17 Win

The Niners got some strong performances from both their offense and defense, winning their final game of the preseason. For more on the game and the team in general head over to Niners Nation, SB Nation's San Francisco 49ers blog.

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NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith Tear Up Chargers O-Line

The San Francisco 49ers looked much more prepared in their 20-17 win over the San Diego Chargers than there flop against the Texans last week, with a lot of the credit going to the defensive line for the Red and Gold. Two players that especially stood out were NaVorro Bowman and rookie Aldon Smith, handling the Bolts' O-Line and forcing some important sacks.

Bowman didn't play long into the game, but his impact was felt all the same. His sack of Billy Volek forced a fumble which he recovered, setting up a 22 yard drive, capped off with a Anthony Dixon one-yard TD run. Here's what Bowman had to say about the play:

Talk about what you saw on your forced fumble and fumble recovery:

"It was just a basic blitz. I had the running back on me one-on-one and that's something that a linebacker wants to get when trying to get a sack. Running backs really like to cut and once they don't cut, you give them one move and get around them and chase the quarterback down and get the sack."

He also made a very good point about the Niners mindset coming into the game:

What are you working on during the last preseason game?

"Really just approaching it like it's a real game because the following week coming up is a real game. We really have to be focused. That's pretty much what the coaches are wanting to see out of us, that we're approaching it like it's a real game. I think we did that."

You sure looked game ready NaVorro, even if it was for just one play. 

As for Rookie Aldon Smith, the rookie outside linebacker man-handled the Chargers O-line; 7 tackles  2.5 sacks, four quarterback hits and two tackles for loss. This kid is an absolute beast, and a great asset to have moving forward. Head coach Jim Harbaugh had this to say about his progress:

 "Saw him playing with some passion there, with some emotion," Harbaugh said. "The light's coming on more and more and (he's) making really good progress."

Let the countdown begin to week one...

For more on the 49ers, mosey on over to Niners Nation to get in on the discussion. 


Jim Harbaugh Names Alex Smith 49ers Starting QB

After his strong showing in only a quarter of work Thursday night, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh stated after the game that quarterback Alex Smith will be the starter week one of the regular season. Smith led two impressive touchdown drives during the first quarter of their preseason match with the San Diego Chargers, looking ready for the grind of the regular season. 

Smith critiqued his own performance, talking about his two TD drives, and the effect of the Niners defense: 

Evaluate the performance overall while you were out there.

"Just part of the two series, to get the opening series and take it all the way down, I think it was a 14-play drive, and put it in, that's the way you want to start games. Knowing that you're getting limited plays, it's definitely the way you want your potential only drive to go. And then the defense got us a turnover and let us go back out there and we were able to stick that next one in. So, it was good. We were able to get some red zone, got some short yardage, got some third down, some situational football that we need more practice at and got some of that tonight."

The fourth preseason game can sometimes be little more than a televised practice, Smith looked sharp and rust free, maybe actually ready to lead this team to some W's. He also talked about the offensive line, which did a much better job keeping him upright:

Were you proud of the way the offensive line performed?

"Oh yeah, the O-line played great and the guys on the outside made some great catches tonight. The  guys up front, I think they got challenged this week a little bit, and they stepped up to it."

Now with attentions focused on the Seattle Seahawks in week one of the regular season, Alex feels ready to get in on in games that matter once again: 

Do you feel comfortable going into the regular season after having those two solid series tonight?

"I do. We had a great camp, got a lot done. It was a great way to end the preseason, at least for the first group. Hopefully these young guys are going to finish it off and I look forward to the regular season starting."

For more on the Red and Gold, head on over to Niners Nation


49ers vs. Chargers: Alex Smith's Early Success Leads Niners to 20-17 Victory

With a new head coach and new systems in place, there is a lot for the San Francisco 49ers to figure out before the start of the regular season. They had some up and down showings thus far in the preseason but seemed to put some of the pieces in place Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers. And behind a strong showing by Alex Smith in the first quarter and some solid defense the rest of the way, the Niners got the victory by the score of 20-17 at Qualcomm stadium.

Smith played only the first quarter, but look very good as he led the Niners of two scoring drives, with the most impressive coming on the opening series of the game. Smith marched his squad 80 yards down the field on 14 plays, eating up 7:56 on the game clock. The drive would conclude with an Anthony Dixon one-yard TD run, as did the second drive later in the quarter led by Smith, 7 plays for 2 yards. 

As for the Niners defense, they got the job done with three turnovers; two fumble recoveries from NaVarro Bowman and Alex Joseph, as well as a a end zone interception from Chris Culliver in the fourth quarter. First-round pick Aldon Smith was very impressive tonight as well, recording six solo tackles and 2.5 sacks, a large portion of the Niners six sacks on the night. 

Ryan Matthews got San Diego started with a 56 yard TD run in the second quarter while Chargers' rookie QB Scott Tolzien looked good tonight, going 16/23 for 226 yards and a last minute TD for the bolts offense. Niners rookie QB Colin Kaepernick threw two picks on the night, finishing 3/7 for 36 yards while rushing for another 20. 

Full box score can be found here

For more on the San Francisco 49ers, check out Niners Nation and get in on the action.


49ers vs. Chargers First Half Recap: Niners Use Balanced Attack, Gain 14-7 Lead

The San Francisco 49ers had a strong first half against the San Diego Chargers, showing some offensive congruity and defensive integrity to take a 14-7 lead into halftime at Qualcomm Stadium. 

Alex Smith had a very nice showing in the first half, finishing 8/10 for 45 yards. He orchestrated an impressive opening drive; an eight minute, 14 play march for 80 yards that concluded with a one yard Anthony Dixon touchdown run. Smith would later have another 7 play drive with the same result, another Dixon 1-yard TD, turning the offense over to his rookie counterpart from there. Colin Kaepernick unfortunately struggled, throwing two interceptions in his playing time, going 1/4 for 11 yards on the field.

The Niners defense was stout as well, aside from a Ryan Matthews 53 yard touchdown run, going completely untouched from the line of scrimmage. Rookie Aldom Smith showed some serious skill with 5 tackles in the first half, two of which were sacks, with three hits on the quarterback all together. Novarro Bowman and Alex Joespeh recovered two fumbles, one from quarterback Billy Volek and another by Jordan Todman. Volek only took a few snaps going 1/3 for five yards. 

Hopefully they can keep the momentum rolling the the second half, and take some confidence into the first week of the season. 

For more on the 49ers, head over to Niners Nation. 


49ers vs. Chargers: Alex Smith Leaves After Strong First Quarter

The San Francisco 49ers bounced back from a brutal showing against the Houston Texans with their best performance of the preseason in the first quarter against the San Diego Chargers. Alex Smith only got a quarter of work in before giving way to Colin Kaepernick, but he looked very solid playing in a fairly basic version of the 49ers offense.

The 49ers opened with the ball on their own 20 and proceeded to drive 80 yards on 14 plays. Alex Smith was 5/6 for 26 yards and displayed his solid scrambling skills on a seven yard run. More importantly, he showed some solid pocket presence as he moved around and avoided sacks. He didn’t complete any particularly long passes, but under the short passing west coast offense, this is a nice little start.

The real star of the first drive was Kendall Hunter who got the first touches after Gore left the field. On six carries, Hunter had 46 yards and thoroughly ran over the Chargers defense. He showed great vision in getting behind his blockers and generally seemed to solidify his spot as the number two running back.

Running back Anthony Dixon was used in more short yardage situations, although he got all the rushing snaps as well in the second series. Dixon finished with a pair of 1-yard rushing touchdowns.

The second touchdown was set up by NaVorro Bowman sacking QB Billy Volek, forcing a fumble and recovering the fumble on the Chargers 22. The 49ers quickly turned that into points and the 14-0 lead. The Chargers have since cut it to 14-7 on a blazing Ryan Mathews run, but now we are fast entering backup player territory.


49ers vs. Chargers NFL Preseason: Reggie Smith, Shawntae Spencer, Michael Crabtree Inactive

The San Francisco 49ers will be have a team near full-strength for their fourth and final preseason game on Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers. The season is just a little more then a week away and head coach Jim Harbaugh is looking forward to seeing his entire team in action.

The players who likely won't be playing tonight? 

Only 49ers listed as not playing are R Smith and S Spencer. Gotta think that Crabtree also is a no go considering he didn't warm up ...less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply


It is disappointing Crabtree will miss yet another preseason game, though it is probably in his injured foot's best interest to continue resting. As for Reggie Smith (knee) and Shawntae Spencer (hamstring), neither injury is considered too serious and they will both hope to play in week one.

For more 49ers coverage, be sure to check out Niners Nation.


49ers Position Battles: Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon Battling To Back Up Frank Gore

As pointed out by the Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows, a San Francisco 49er is leading all rushers in the preseason for the fifth straight season (woo hoo!), but the team still hasn't come up with who will be Frank Gore's backup yet. 

Kendall Hunter has 174 rushing yards through the first three weeks of the preseason, leading the Redskins Roy Helu by a yard. Seniority favors Anthony Dixon to be the second string RB, but his numbers haven't been as impressive as Hunter's thus far, and has talked about moving to fullback already this season. Hopefully once the regualr season comes Frank can be the workhorse he's been his entire career in San Francisco, but the Niners need a change-up back to keep Gore fresh and the defenses they face honest. Here's what Barrows had to say about the battle for the backup:

It's a bit counter intuitive given their relative sizes, but Hunter has been the better north-south tailback while Dixon has been too indecisive and too apt to break runs to the outside. I asked Jim Harbaugh on Sunday whether Hunter had moved ahead of Dixon on the depth chart. He said that battle is ongoing. Hunter also said he hadn't heard when he will get into today's preseason finale.

Look for both men to have a similar amount of snaps during the Niners matchup down in San Diego, as both got eight apiece in last week's loss to the Texans. Hunter ran for 40 yards in his time on the field while Dixon only managed 15, 

For more discussion and analysis of the 49ers, mosey on over to Niners Nation to get in on the action!


49ers Vs. Chargers: Game Time, TV Schedule, Roster Update And More

The San Francisco 49ers travel down to San Diego to face the Chargers Thursday evening in their preseason finale. The 49ers last performance against the Houston Texans left a lot plenty to be desired and fans will be hoping for something a little more inspiring Thursday evening in San Diego.

It's hard to judge the preseason in part because many teams are trying out new schemes and new players, while other teams know what they've got and are just trying to make it to the regular season without significant injuries. The 49ers are an example of the former, while the Chargers are an example of the latter. All teams are still looking at some number of end of the roster players, but the 49ers are a team that have as many question marks to figure out as anybody else.

You could argue the most interesting story of the game will come before the game. 49ers running back Xavier Omon and Chargers defensive end Ogemdi Nwagbuo are half brothers and will get a chance to meet up before the game. This is significant because they only discovered they were half brothers nine months ago and this is the first time they will meet in person. They've spent nine months emailing, texting, and skyping, and now they'll get to meet for the first time ever. It should make for an exciting evening for Omon, no matter how he performs during the game.

Game Date/Time: Thursday, September 1; 7:00pm PT

TV Schedule
49ers: CBS 5 - Dennis O'Donnell, Tim Ryan, Kim Coyle
Chargers: CBS 8

Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

Radio Schedule
49ers: 107.7 FM, 680/1050 AM - Ted Robinson, Eric Davis, Rod Brooks
Chargers: 105.3 FM, 1360 AM

TV Distribution MapThe506.com

For more on the Niners head over to Niners Nation. For more on the Chargers, check out Bolts from the Blue. Follow the rest of preseason week four at SB Nation NFL.


49ers vs. Chargers NFL Preseason Preview: Offensive Line Woes, Receiver Battles Waging

The San Francisco 49ers are going to wrap up their preseason by taking on the San Diego Chargers. The biggest thing to look for in this last week is improvement from the offensive line - how this unit plays in the regular season will likely determine where the Red and Gold stand in the NFC West division. For more on the game and the team in general, go over to Niners Nation, SB Nation's San Francisco 49ers blog.

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