Caleb Sturgis had an all-right Sunday, and that’s not good.
The Chargers kicker was wide right on a pair of extra-point tries, and on a 54-yard field goal attempt in a 29-27 victory over San Francisco.
“Just spraying things right today,” said Sturgis, who also made field goals of 48, 25, and 21 yards. “Just got to hit the ball more solid. I did the same thing on every single one.”
Quarterback Philip Rivers, who had some troubles of his own early on, wasn’t about to offer advice or even encouragement. He respectfully kept his distance on the sideline.
“I don’t know the best route to take there,” said Rivers, whose second pass was a pick-six. “I threw the interception for a touchdown today. I don’t like it when you say anything to me. It’s one of those, ‘Hey, we’re fine. We’re fine.’ It’s like, ‘I know. We will be fine. But it’s not OK.’ I don’t know what kicking feels like, mentally. It’s such a mental deal.
“You spray one in the water off the tee box, I don’t really want anybody to say anything. Because I really don’t know where the next one’s going.”
Back in his first two seasons, when the extra point was a chip shot, Sturgis was 74 of 74 for the Miami Dolphins.
So for him to miss two Sunday, bringing his season miss total to three, is significant.
Anthony Lynn, who has endured more than his share of kicking headaches as Chargers coach, said he wanted to study tape of the operation — snap, hold, kick — before offering a critique.
“We’ll take a look at that, and if we can’t make it better we’ll have to do something,” Lynn said. “But right now I can’t say that.”
Many happy returns
Desmond King only learned Saturday — after the Chargers’ walk-through — that he would be returning punts the next day.
That didn’t stop him from running through the 49ers, however.
King ran back four punts for 82 yards, the bulk of which came on a 56-yard return that almost certainly would have gone for a touchdown had the last man, 49ers punter Bradley Pinion, not tripped him while falling backward. There was no flag.
“The punter tripped me,” King said. “I really don’t know the rules, but he did it. Can’t call it back now, but it happened. Still a good return. Same return for us. Set up your blocks and hit the hole when it’s open.”
King, a fifth-round pick out of Iowa last year, said he expects to find out Monday if the job is his.
“I believe they trusted me back there,” he said. “Was a little rusty, but will get back to what I’m used to doing.
“It felt natural to me to get the ball in my hands and do what I can do with it.”
One tough QB
Everywhere you turned Sunday, there was someone in a Jimmy Garoppolo jersey. There were hundreds, if not a thousand of them, in the StubHub Center stands. But the star 49ers quarterback is done for the year, having suffered a season-ending knee injury in a Week 3 loss to Kansas City.
His replacement, C.J. Beathard, did a respectable job Sunday, completing 23 of 37 for 298 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also absorbed some punishing hits, even though he was only sacked once.
Beathard’s longest play was a touchdown pass to George Kittle, the tight end outrunning the secondary for an 82-yard score.
Kittle marveled at Beathard’s toughness.
“C.J. has more grit than anyone I know,” he said.
“He’s got a severe ‘dad bod,’ ” Kittle added. “He can run longer than anybody I’ve ever known — which is kind of crazy — and he can take any hit. It’s pretty cool. Don’t know how he does it.”
The Chargers were penalized just five times, but three of those were roughing-the-passer calls. The first was on defensive tackle Darius Philon in the opening quarter. In the third, linebackers Kyle Emanuel and Melvin Ingram drew roughing flags on consecutive plays.
“The target is just so small,” Emanuel said. “You can’t hit him in the head or neck area, you can’t hit him below the waist, you’re coming full speed, have to beat a 300-pound left tackle, a really good player, and then hit a target zone. It’s not easy, but the rules aren’t changing. Have to try to adjust as well as we can.”
The NFL has instructed officials to keep a keen eye on roughing the passer this season, and through three weeks there were 34 such calls throughout the league, more than twice as many as at the same point last season (16).
“I thought Kyle was waist high and slid down,” Lynn said. “Melvin’s was probably one that they’re going to call. He landed with his weight on top of [Beathard]. We have to do a better job of understanding the rules.
“We work on that. Our defensive line coach, Giff Smith, does a heck of a job of, ‘Wrap guys up, spin them to the side, try not to put your weight on guys.’ But that’s going to happen from time to time.”
Up the charts
Rivers threw for 250 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. That gives him 51,504 yards for his career, moving him past Hall of Famer John Elway (51,475) for the eighth-most passing yards in NFL history.
“Those are guys I had posters of on my wall,” Rivers said. “So to even be mentioned with those guys is definitely special.”