Thursday night the San Diego Chargers were crushed by the San Francisco 49ers 41-6. While this result looks alarming at first, and there are some concerns from the game, this score doesn’t reflect how the Chargers will be throughout the season.
The first thing to take into account when analyzing the game is that the San Diego first team didn’t play. Even while the 49er starters were taking the first few drives, the Chargers sent out their reserve players. If the first team was in for the beginning, they would have potentially had some decent offensive production in the first quarter. Essentially, this game makes no suggestion as to what the starting offense and defense will be like once the season starts so in that regard, the Bolts are fine.
However, the terrible play by the reserves shows that the Chargers have a serious problem with depth. The team has already suffered an above average number of injuries and more are sure to come. When they do, the players who will be stepping into the lineup will be those that played in Thursday’s game. If they really struggled against other backup players, there is no question that they will struggle against NFL starters.
Another area of concern that was highlighted last night was the weakness of the special teams units. The kickoff team again allowed San Francisco to return the ball at least 30 yards on all three kickoff attempts. There were no major runbacks for scores, but constantly giving up good field position seems to be an ongoing problem for the Bolts. The punt team also had the second punt blocked of the preseason. The protection on the punts doesn’t need to be the best in the league, but if they are allowing punts to be
blocked on a regular basis, they will give up crucial points that will cost them games. The major problem with the special teams is that the players on special teams now are going to be the same ones that will take the field once the season starts. There is no first team to come in for the regular season so the preseason special teams is basically the special teams unit for week one. The weaknesses that have been displayed will remain unchanged throughout the season. There isn’t even any new players to add to fix the situation because it isn’t cost effective to bring in players for the sole purpose of special teams play.
One thing that became evident during the game was that the left tackle position is no longer up for debate. While King Dunlap hasn’t necessarily proved that he is a solid left tackle, Max Starks certainly proved he isn’t one. He allowed three sacks against the niners and looked like he had no idea what to do on the field. The Chargers just announced he was cut from the team so Dunlap is now a done deal on the offensive line.
Overall, there are some concerns with the team, but at the same time the score was not an accurate representation of the Chargers that will come to play in the regular season. The first team has some good talented players who will be able to provide San Diego with solid and consistent play. That being said, the team has not given anyone reason to believe that they are ready for action. In the time the first team was on the field in the past four weeks, they have only played at a mediocre level. Next week, the Chargers will take on the Houston Texans. The preseason hasn’t been as optimistic as the team would have liked and the Texans are one of the best teams in the league. Quite frankly, with the current play the Chargers have recently displayed, they won’t be able to win.