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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

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