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.