The moment could go down as just the latest oddly notable twist in the ongoing saga that has been the Chargers’ kicking situation.
With roster cuts looming, there’s a chance Roberto Aguayo’s final act with the team was booting a game-winning, time-expiring, walk-off field goal.
Generally speaking, failing under such circumstances is what ends a kicker’s tenure.
Aguayo succeeded, even if it was only in a preseason game, the attempt was from just 26 yards away, and the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
“I felt I hit it well,” he said. “It was kind of rotating weird. At the end of the day, it went through.”
The field goal came on the final play of the Chargers’ 23-21 victory over San Francisco on Thursday and marked the end of the preseason competition to win the team’s kicking job.
The Chargers signed veteran Caleb Sturgis to a two-year deal in mid-March with the idea he would be their No. 1 kicker. Two months earlier, they had signed Aguayo to compete for the spot.
Because of limited opportunities, neither vaulted to the top during the preseason.
Sturgis finished two for three on field goals (with a long of 45 yards) and two for two on extra points. Aguayo was three for three (long of 39) on field goals and six for six on extra points.
“With the opportunities I had, I thought I did well,” said Aguayo, a former second-round pick with one season of NFL experience with Tampa Bay. “Coming into this, I told myself that no matter who it is, I’m competing against myself.”
Last season, the Chargers used four kickers and, because of an injury, were forced to employ punter Drew Kaser during one game.
A blocked field in Denver and two misses against Miami, including a potential game-winner, cost them the first two games of the season, and possibly a playoff spot.
“I’m proud of myself,” Aguayo said. “Coming from a year ago, getting cut [by Chicago] … it’s just a long road. This was what I was waiting for — this preseason.”
There has been speculation that the Chargers could keep both kickers, an unlikely but not unprecedented move in the NFL. In all probability, however, the season-opening roster will have room for only one of them.
That final field goal Thursday could have been decidedly more difficult and dramatic were it not for the play that preceded it.
Rookie running back Justin Jackson cut back through the middle of the 49ers defense for 16 yards, turning a potential lengthy attempt into something shorter than an extra point.
Jackson, the Chargers’ seventh-round draft pick in 2018, was appearing in his first game after missing much of August because of a hamstring injury.
“I had to get a little dust off, get back in the groove of things,” he said. “I just played hard and did my best.”
Jackson finished with 18 yards on seven rushes as he made a last-call attempt to impress the Chargers coaching staff.
On the plus side for the team, Jackson’s extended inactivity during the preseason should make it easier to get him through waivers for purposes of placing him on the practice squad, if that’s the route the Chargers choose.
He appears to be battling Detrez Newsome for the third running back spot, and Newsome — an undrafted rookie — had a healthy and decently productive preseason.
“It’s my first time going through this,” Jackson said of the impending roster moves. “Control what you can control is what people say, and that’s very true. Now, all I can do is sit and wait and take the cards that I’m dealt.”
Newsome showed additional versatility Thursday when he returned a kickoff 63 yards to help set up Aguayo’s game-winner.
“I definitely feel good about the preseason I had,” Newsome said. “I tried to go out and make plays and do all those little things right.”
Lamp was on
Offensive lineman Forrest Lamp, a second-round pick in 2017, finally made his first appearance as a Charger after missing last season because of a knee injury.
He started, played into the third quarter against the 49ers, and afterward pronounced himself ready for the season.