Injury-depleted Chargers can’t overcome late 49ers surge in loss

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa brings down Chargers wide receiver DeAndre Carter.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, right, brings down Chargers wide receiver DeAndre Carter during the Chargers’ 22-16 loss Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

Two key injuries on the defensive line coupled by the Chargers’ offensive struggles in the second half doom them to a 22-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Talanoa Hufanga interception seals 49ers’ win over Chargers

San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga (29) celebrates with offensive tackle Spencer Burford.
San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga (29) celebrates with offensive tackle Spencer Burford after Sunday’s win over the Chargers.
(Godofredo A. Vásquez / Associated Press)

🏈 49ers 22, Chargers 16 — FINAL

An interception by 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga sealed the win for San Francisco in its comeback over the injury-hampered Chargers.

Getting the ball back with 58 seconds left in regulation, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw a deep pass intended for Joshua Palmer that was easily picked off by Hufanga, the former USC star who also had a key interception earlier this season in a win over the Rams.

San Francisco held the Chargers to just 52 yards of offense in a second-half shutout over L.A.

The Chargers have lost two of their last three games and were once again hampered by injuries, with defensive linemen Otito Ogbonnia (knee) and Christian Covington (pectoral) exiting early.

Herbert connected on 21 of 35 attempts for 196 yards, with a touchdown and interception. DeAndre Carter caught four passes for 64 yards and Palmer made three catches for 44 yards. Austin Ekeler was held to 24 yards on six carries.

San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed 19 of 28 passes for 240 yards. Elijah Mitchell rushed for 89 yards on 18 carries and Christian McCaffrey was limited to 38 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.


San Francisco extends lead with field goal late in fourth quarter

🏈 49ers 22, Chargers 16 — 1:00 left in the fourth quarter

Robbie Gould kicked a 20-yard field goal to give the 49ers a six-point lead heading into the final minute of regulation. The Chargers will need to score a touchdown — and they’ll have no timeouts to achieve the feat.

Earlier, the Chargers had to start at their own one-yard line after referees ruled Samuel Womack III down on a punt catch at the one even though he was pushed into the end zone by teammates for an apparent touchback. Working out the end zone, Herbert threw three incomplete passes, including one to Joshua Palmer on fourth down.


49ers take lead in fourth quarter as injuries mount for Chargers

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo celebrates after Christian McCaffrey scores a touchdown.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo celebrates after Christian McCaffrey scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

🏈 49ers 19, Chargers 16 — 7:54 left in the fourth quarter

Two key players on the Chargers’ defensive line are injured, and the 49ers are taking advantage.

Christian McCaffrey scored on a two-yard touchdown run to give San Francisco its first lead of the game. The touchdown came at the end of a methodical, 14-play, 77-yard drive that included Chargers defensive lineman Christian Covington leaving straight for the locker room after an injury. Otito Ogbonnia left the game in the first half with a knee injury.

A 24-yard pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to Brandon Aiyuk also helped San Francisco’s cause.

Robbie Gould missed the extra point, but are the Chargers capable of finding the end zone again tonight? They’ve punted on their last two possessions.

The Chargers need to hold onto the ball — and get some Justin Herbert magic — to complete a comeback. With the state of their defense up front, the Chargers might be unable to stop the two-headed attack of McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell.


San Francisco opens second half with a field goal

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey carries the ball past Chargers linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey carries the ball past Chargers linebacker Kyle Van Noy during the first half.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

🏈 Chargers 16, 49ers 13 — 8:53 left in the third quarter

The 49ers cut into the Chargers’ lead with a 26-yard field goal by Robbie Gould. The points came after a 12-play, 67-yard drive by the 49ers to open the second half.

A 12-yard run by Christian McCaffrey — his biggest run of the night — fueled the drive, but a pair of incomplete passes by Jimmy Garoppolo brought it to an abrupt halt.

L.A.’s defense has looked impressive so far, especially in containing McCaffrey. Can Justin Herbert find the end zone? After blazing through the 49ers’ defense on the game’s first possession, the Chargers haven’t have struggled on the 49ers’ side of the field.


Chargers settle for field goal after Justin Herbert takes helmet-to-helmet hit

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert hands off to running back Austin Ekeler during the first half Sunday.
(Godofredo A. Vásquez / Associated Press)

🏈 Chargers 16, 49ers 10 — HALFTIME

The Chargers’ hopes of scoring a touchdown before halftime turn a weird turn, but they at least salvaged a 40-yard field goal from Cameron Dicker to extend their lead.

With the Chargers driving, quarterback Justin Herbert was taken out of the game for a medical evaluation after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw. With Greenlaw being ejected for the illegal hit, Chargers backup QB Chase Daniel entered and threw two incomplete passes and was sacked, forcing the Chargers to settle for Dicker’s third field goal of the night.

Herbert left the medical tent after Daniel’s first snap but remained on the sideline with his helmet off.

Herbert completed 14 of 21 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown in the first half. DeAndre Carter made three catches for 70 yards and Austin Ekeler had six catches for 37 yards.

San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo connected on nine of 13 attempts for 128 yards. Christian McCaffrey was held to 18 yards on eight carries.

As for Herbert, he was been cleared to play in the second half:


Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers strike back with TD

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo passes against the Chargers on Sunday.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

🏈 Chargers 13, 49ers 10 — 1:57 left in the second quarter

So much for the Chargers defense looking impenetrable.

Jimmy Garoppolo scored on a one-yard sneak to cut into the Chargers’ lead late in the second quarter.

Garoppolo marched the 49ers 75 yards on nine plays, with his 33-yard pass to Ray-Ray McCloud fueling the drive. McCloud made the catch over linebacker Troy Reeder, who was filling in for Kenneth Murray, who was being evaluated for a head injury.

Murray returned to the field minutes later.


Chargers miss out on TD, extend lead with another field goal

Chargers coach Brandon Staley watches from the sideline during the first half Sunday.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

🏈 Chargers 13, 49ers 3 — 6:42 left in the second quarter

The Chargers couldn’t fully capitalize on a partially blocked punt by Nick Niemann, settling for a 25-yard field goal by Cameron Dicker after getting to the San Francisco 2-yard line.

Niemann got an arm on a punt by Mitch Wishnowsky, limiting the kick to 13 yards.

Justin Herbert then made an incredible laser pass into traffic to DeAndre Carter for 33 yards to put the Chargers just outside the end zone. However, a false start penalty on Foster Sarell coupled with a Nick Bosa sack meant a second field goal tonight for “Dicker the Kicker.”

Defensively, the Chargers have been strong, holding Christian McCaffrey to 14 yards on six carries so far.

But there was more bad news on the injury front for the Chargers, with tight end Gerald Everett questionable to return with a groin injury. Kenneth Murray (head) and Otito Ogbonnia (knee) also are questionable to return.


Chargers extend lead on Cameron Dicker field goal

Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. celebrates after recovering a fumble against the 49ers.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

🏈 Chargers 10, 49ers 3 — 14:52 left in second quarter

A fumble recovery by Asante Samuel Jr. helped set up a 47-yard field goal by Cameron Dicker to extend the lead for the Chargers.

Samuel picked up the fumble after 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk dropped a pass on the first play of the 49ers’ second possession.

The Chargers, however, couldn’t go much further and had to settle for the Dicker field goal, which stayed just inside the right upright.

On the next possession, Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray was involved in a big on-field collision with Aiyuk. He is being evaluated for a head injury, the Chargers announced.


Chargers hold 49ers to field goal after gutsy stand at goal line

49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, left, is tackled by Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. and cornerback Michael Davis.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, left, is tackled by Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. (3) and cornerback Michael Davis (43) during the first quarter.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

🏈 Chargers 7, 49ers 3 — 4:10 left in the first quarter

The Chargers managed to hold the 49ers to a 20-yard Robbie Gould field goal after an impressive goal-line effort.

After picking up a first down at the Chargers’ nine-yard line, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo connected on a short pass to Deebo Samuel before the Chargers stuffed Christian McCaffrey for no gain on third down.

The effort came at a cost, however. Rookie defensive tackle Otito Obgonnia had to be helped off the field after suffering an apparent leg injury. He was then carted off to the locker room and is listed as questionable to return. His absence could significantly hurt the Chargers’ efforts to stop the run tonight.

The Chargers, however, were forced to punt on the ensuing possession — the first punt of the game.


Chargers blow past 49ers defense for TD on opening drive

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert passes against the San Francisco 49ers.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

🏈 Chargers 7, 49ers 0 — 11:35 left in the first quarter

DeAndre Carter capped off a sensational opening drive for the Chargers with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Justin Herbert.

The seven-play, 75-yard drive only took 3 minutes and 25 seconds, slicing through the flat-footed 49ers defense for 75 yards on seven plays.

Herbert connected on all four of his passes for 69 yards. In addition to his 32-yarder to Carter, he found Gerald Everett twice for a total of 23 yards.

It’s an impressive start for Herbert and Co. How with Jimmy Garoppolo, Christian McCaffrey and the 49ers respond.


How former first-round pick Jerry Tillery lost his Chargers job in a week

Former Chargers defensive lineman Jerry Tillery stands on the field during a game.
Former Chargers defensive lineman Jerry Tillery
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The relationship between the Chargers and former first-round pick Jerry Tillery dissolved so quickly and dramatically this week that he was suddenly waived Thursday night.

On Friday, coach Brandon Staley explained that the team and the player had “competing visions” of Tillery’s role, particularly after starting defensive lineman Austin Johnson was lost for the season Sunday.

Staley said the plan was to allow Breiden Fehoko and Joe Gaziano to compete with Tillery for playing time in Johnson’s spot.

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Why Sean Payton thinks the San Francisco 49ers are going to the Super Bowl

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey carries the ball against the Rams on Oct. 30.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

As Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells is fond of saying, you are what your record says you are. By that measure, at 4-4, the San Francisco 49ers are positively average.

But if there’s one NFL team poised to punch the accelerator over the next nine games, it’s the 49ers, who play host to the Chargers on Sunday night.

With running back Christian McCaffrey even more familiar with the playbook, and the ultra-versatile receiver Deebo Samuel back in the fold after a week off, the 49ers are suddenly one of the league’s most explosive offenses, as the Rams discovered in losing at home to their NFC West rival two weeks ago.

Yes, the 49ers already have lost four games, but they were 3-5 at this point last season and wound up getting all the way to the NFC championship game before the Rams edged them out down the stretch. This is a San Francisco team that knows how to finish strong.

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Chargers know they have to avoid slow start against hard-charging 49ers

Chargers coach Brandon Staley celebrates with the team after a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns in October.
(David Richard / Associated Press)

For starters, the Chargers of late have been much better finishers.

Four consecutive games have brought double-digit deficits after the opening quarter.

Yet the team has gone 3-1 over that stretch by rebounding from two-score differences against Cleveland, Denver and Atlanta.

“It’s hard to come back in the NFL,” safety Derwin James Jr. said. “If we’re coming back from down two possessions, we gotta be doing something right.”

True, but the Chargers also are doing something wrong in repeatedly putting themselves in positions to have to rally in the first place.

They’ve been outscored 51-3 in their past four first quarters, a trend that more than likely would doom them Sunday night against a San Francisco team that is expected to present a sharp upgrade in opposition.

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Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers matchups, how to watch and prediction

Breaking down how the Chargers (5-3) and the San Francisco 49ers (4-4) match up heading into their game at 5:20 p.m. PST on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The game will be shown on NBC (Ch. 4) and streamed on Peacock and NFL+.

When Chargers have the ball

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler carries the ball against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 6, 2022.
The Chargers’ Austin Ekeler, pictured carrying the ball in Sunday’s win at Atlanta, will face the NFL’s top run defense against the 49ers.
(Butch Dill / Associated Press)

One way to counter San Francisco’s multiple offensive threats is control the time of possession. That would require that the Chargers run, something they’ve failed to do with sustained success in seven of eight games. And now, they’re facing the No. 1 rushing defense in the NFL.

An effective ground game also would help neutralize the 49ers’ pass rush.

“The more that we can keep them in a run mode and make them hit blocks and not be able to just tee off on the pass rush, the better,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said. “I think it’s an important part of the game.”

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Inactives for Chargers vs. 49ers

Right tackle Trey Pipkins III is among the Chargers’ inactives for their Sunday Night Football game against San Francisco in Santa Clara.

Pipkins aggravated his sprained knee last weekend in Atlanta and was questionable for the game against the 49ers. He worked out on the field Sunday afternoon but was unable to play.

The Chargers’ other inactives include wide receivers Keenan Allen (hamstring) and Mike Williams (ankle), both of whom were ruled out Friday. Coach Brandon Staley said there’s a strong chance Williams could practice in some capacity this coming week.

The rest of the inactives: kicker Dustin Hopkins (hamstring), edge rusher Chris Rumph II (knee), wide receiver Keelan Doss and quarterback Easton Stick.


Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers: Betting odds, lines and picks against the spread

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler catches a pass for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 6.
(Danny Karnik / Associated Press)

The Chargers bought themselves a little goodwill and a slight cushion by outlasting the Atlanta Falcons 20-17 coming out of the bye, but it wasn’t exactly the performance you’d like to see with two weeks to prepare. A similar effort this week will lead to a blowout at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers on “Sunday Night Football”, an outcome being suggested by the betting line on the game.

Chargers at San Francisco 49ers (-7, 45.5)

Just imagine what this line would look like if the 49ers had success running the football this season. The Chargers rank among the worst run defenses in the NFL, though it’s not like they’ve fared a whole lot better against the pass either. Now they draw a 49ers offense coming off of a bye week that gave offensive evil genius Kyle Shanahan some extra time to figure out how to incorporate more of Christian McCaffrey into the playbook.

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