Trey Lance leads the 49ers pass the Chargers

Rookie quarterback Trey Lance overcame an erratic start to throw for two touchdowns and lead the San Francisco 49ers to a 15-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers last Sunday Night at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The Week 2 preseason game was attended by 68,327 fans and was the Chargers' first home game in front of fans at SoFi Stadium.

Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, is battling incumbent starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, for the starting job. Lance played his college football for the North Dakota State Bison and was a teammate of Chargers quarterback Easton Stick with the Bison. Both the Chargers and 49ers sat their best players, although the 49ers did start Garoppolo.

Garoppolo started and played in the first quarter, completing 3 of 6 passes for 15 yards and threw one interception. Not the kind of performance he needed to hold onto the starting job. Lance followed in the second quarter and struggled as well, completing 1 of 6 passes for nine yards with an interception in the first two offensive possessions of the second quarter for the 49ers.

Lance did get it going late in the second quarter, connecting with wide receiver Trent Sherfield on a 41-yard bomb, which set up a five-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 12 seconds left in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Lance led the Niners on a 61-yard touchdown drive, the drive culminating with a 16-yard touchdown pass to ex-Charger Travis Benjamin.

Stick started the first half of the game and helped get the Chargers to an early 10-2 lead. Stick was sacked for a safety early in the second quarter by San Francisco's Jordan Willis, giving the Niners a brief 2-0 lead.

The highlight of the first half was a three-yard touchdown pass from Stick. Scrambling to his right while being pursued by three 49er defenders, Stick somehow floated a pass to the back of the end zone to a wide-open Josh Palmer for the touchdown. Stick also connected with wide receiver Jalen Guyton for a 39-yard completion downfield that set up Michael Badgley's 50-yard field goal. Those two scores gave the Chargers a 10-2 lead late in the second quarter.

Stick completed 10 of 14 passes for 85 and one touchdown. He also led the Chargers in rushing with 15 yards, which is an indication of the issues the Chargers had on Sunday night. The Chargers struggled to move the ball offensively and were thoroughly dominated on the line of scrimmage by the 49ers. They were held to 53 yards rushing on the night. The 49er defense had 5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 8 quarterback hits.

The 49ers may have the best defensive line in the NFL, so dominating a makeshift offensive line is not completely surprising. But left tackle Storm Norton and right tackle Trey Pipkins will need to play better. "Those two guys were able to see where they're at with their game," Charger head coach Brandon Staley said. "Those two guys got a really accurate picture of where they're at."

"Tackles are hard to find in the league," Staley added. "I think that we've got two guys that are capable. I'm confident in both of those guys, comfortable with both those guys. They're both improving, and against a front like that, you're going to have to give guys some help, no matter who it is. So, I feel like they are going to learn a lot from this tape, and we need them to so that we can see who that third guy is going to be, that fourth guy."

The ineffectiveness of the offense in the second half was glaring. Chase Daniel came in at quarterback in the second half and was unable to get anything going offensively. Daniel completed 14 of 21 passes for just 60 yards and had one pass intercepted. Wide receiver Tyron Johnson, who averaged 19.9 yards per reception in 2020, caught 4 passes for 11 yards against the 49ers on Sunday Night, an average of 2.8 yards per reception. Daniel did not have the time to go downfield, and the offense became an ineffective dink-and-dunk passing attack.

The 49ers offensively were able to move the ball just enough to get the victory. The 49ers rushed for 148 yards on the night, with running back Wayne Gallman leading the way with 72 yards rushing and running back JaMycal Hasty adding 58 yards on the ground. The 49ers had three turnovers and 13 penalties, which kept the game close. The Chargers had 12 penalties in the game.

Defensively, the Chargers had some standout performances from their backups. Edge rusher Kyler Fackrell, signed as a free agent after playing with the New York Giants in 2020, had a sack and brought consistent pressure on 49er quarterbacks. Rookie linebacker Nick Niemann again led the Chargers in tackles with eight tackles, including one tackle for a loss. Linebacker Cole Christiansen had seven tackles and a fumble recovery. Rookie cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. added a first quarter interception.

Fortunately for the Chargers, this was a preseason game and relatively meaningless. There is a real concern with depth on the offensive line, as Staley indicated a need for a third tackle to emerge. The depth in the interior of the offensive line could use improvement as well. The good news is the starting 11 on both sides of the ball have looked good in camp and in the scrimmages against the 49ers last week.

The Chargers play their third and final preseason game of the season at Seattle on Saturday night against the Seahawks. The game will start at 7:00 pm. Both teams will sit their best players as they prepare for the start of the regular season on September 12th. The Chargers roster is currently at 80 players, and they will need to get down to the NFL mandated 53-man roster by August 31st.

The game against the Seahawks will have plenty of meaning for the players on both teams trying to make the roster. As NFL teams reduce to their rosters to 53 players, the Chargers could also be looking at the waiver wire to see what players are cut by other teams. The Chargers will probably be searching for additional offensive line help through the waiver wire.


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