A week after the 49ers unleashed an offensive and defensive fury on the Seattle Seahawks, they managed to merely whimper out of San Diego losing 34-7 to a Chargers team that looks primed for another December run. In a game that this 49ers fan would call horrifically officiated, the Chargers offense and defense was too much for the 49ers.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers keyed the offensive effort with a fairly flawless performance completing 19 of 25 passes for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns. The 49ers managed to get seven points late, but one could argue the score could have been much worse given the 49ers performance.
The 49ers problems started in the first quarter when they looked like they were ready to capture some momentum. After Jeff Reed drilled a field goal the Chargers were called for a personal foul for illegal leverage by the field goal defensive unit. The 49ers got a second chance inside the red zone and seemed to capitalize with an Alex Smith rushing touchdown. The play was overturned on a Norv Turner challenge as Smith was ruled down at the six inch yard line courtesy of his knee. The team went for it on fourth down but a handoff to Anthony Dixon didn’t cut it and the team turned the ball over on downs.
That’s when things quickly started to fall apart. On the ensuing Chargers drive, Justin Smith got into a shoving match with a backup tight end and as the refs were trying to separate them, Smith pushed one of the refs aside. The ref threw a flag for unnecessary roughness and the rules state that when it involves a referee, it requires automatic ejection.
The loss of Justin Smith was not the end of the 49ers, but as Matt Millen pointed out in usual crappy way, “I think the 49ers front seven misses Justin Smith.” It was just one of many bad things tonight. The defense as a whole was burned throughout by Rivers. The offense struggled to get much going as the Chargers did an excellent job taking away Vernon Davis with double and triple coverage. All in all a poor performance.
The 49ers remain somewhat alive in the playoff race and we’ll have an update on that later tonight or tomorrow. In the meantime we can just enjoy what is truly bitter pill to swallow.