49ers @ Chargers preseason live blog

This is the live blog for the San Francisco 49ers preseason game against the San Diego Chargers. I will update this frequently with information and analysis from my living room.

5:10 Colin Kaepernick will be the 49ers’ starting quarterback tonight. Two questions about him:

  1. Do you expect he will play well? He’ll be facing backups.
  2. What would he prove by playing well? He’ll be facing backups.

5:35 Here is the official list of 49ers who will not play tonight:

  1. QB Blaine Gabbert
  2. RB Carlos Hyde
  3. LT Joe Staley
  4. RT John Theus
  5. DT Arik Armstead
  6. DT Glenn Dorsey
  7. ILB Nick Bellore
  8. CB Keith Reaser
  9. WR Bryce Treggs

5:43 With Staley on the bench, who will protect Kaepernick’s blindside? Colin Kelly??

6:33 Jimmie Ward also is not active.

6:34 DeAndre Smelter will make his preseason debut. I predict he will make the 53-man roster, but not the active 46-man roster on game days.

6:37 More players who are out:

  1. RT Trent Brown
  2. C Daniel Kilgore
  3. RG Anthony Davis
  4. WR Torrey  Smith
  5. WR Quinton Patton
  6. TE Vance McDonald
  7. TE Garrett Celek
  8. DT DeForest Buckner
  9. OLB Ahmad Brooks
  10. OLB Eli Harold
  11. ILB NaVorro Bowman
  12. CB Tramaine Brock
  13. S Antoine Bethea
  14. S Eric Reid

6:43 Bruce Miller is in uniform. Have to imagine the Niners will showcase him for a trade.

6:45 Players who seem to be active:

  1. WR Jeremy Kerley
  2. WR DeAndrew White
  3. RB Shaun Draughn
  4. LG Zane Beadles
  5. LG Joshua Garnett
  6. ILB Ray Ray Armstrong
  7. ILB Gerald Hodges
  8. CB Chris Davis


7:00 NFL Network is broadcasting the National Anthem live. What a circus.

7:02 Kaepernick and Eric Reid did not stand during the National Anthem.

7:06 49ers get the ball first and start from the 15-yard line.

7:17 Kaepernick completes 6-of-8 passes for 58 yards, runs twice for 30 and leads a touchdown drive capped by a one-yard rush by DuJuan Harris. 6-0 Niners. Harris’ two-point attempt is stopped. Good drive for Kaepernick, who made accurate short-range passes. He also forced a couple of passes into coverage, including a 14-yard pass which Dres Anderson caught in front of a safety.

7:29 On fourth-and-1, Kellen Clemens overthrows a wide-open Deandre Reaves deep down the middle of the field. Reaves had a step or two or slot corner Will Redmond. Niners take over on downs at their 30-yard line.

7:30 Michael Wilhoite gave up two catches for 19 yards and one first down on that drive. He’s not good.

7:34 Kaepernick takes a hit as he throws a one-hopper to Devon Cajuste on third-and-8. His previous pass was late, behind and knocked away from tight end Blake Bell.

7:38 Nickel back Marcus Cromartie gets picked by Michael Wilhoite and gives up an 18-yard catch to Isaiah Burse just before the end of the first quarter.

7:58 Chris Swain runs into the end zone from two yards out. 7-6 Chargers. Will Redmond gave up three catches for 27 yards during that drive. He seems shaky in coverage.

8:01 Shayne Skov covered tight ends well twice during that drive. He is a better player than veteran Michael Wilhoite.

8:06 49ers color commentator Tim Ryan is criticizing Kaepernick almost every play on the telecast. Ryan typically is extremely complementary of 49ers players.

8:09 DuJuan Harris bounces a run outside on fourth-and-1 and gains 15 yards. He may lead the team in rushing this season if Carlos Hyde can’t stay healthy.

8:22 Kaepernick telegraphs a pass to TE Je’Ron Hamm on 3rd-and-10 from the Chargers’ 14 and almost gets intercepted by S Dexter McCoil. Phil Dawson makes a field goal before halftime. 9-7 Niners.

8:24 Kaepernick threw short passes to his first read during the first half. He also forced a few passes into coverage and probably would gotten picked off twice if he had been facing starters.

8:35 Kaepernick’s passer rating in the 1st half was 76.9.  Averaged just 5.7 yards per pass attempt. Maybe his strategy to beat Gabbert is to play like Gabbert.

8:41 Four-play, 79-yard touchdown drive for the Chargers to start the second half. Niners gave up a 44-yard run followed by a six-yard touchdown run.

8:44 Jeff Driskel in at quarterback.

8:46 And his first pass is intercepted.  Short pass intended for Blake Bell. Driskel telegraphed it.

8:48 The 49ers’ backup quarterback may not currently be on their roster. Might be someone who gets cut this weekend.

8:49 Now Mike Bercovici gets picked by Rashard Robinson, who reaches up to catch the ball away from his body. Good hands.

8:53 Driskel’s second pass gets picked. Is that bad?

9:00 L.J. McCray misses a tackle and gives up a 17-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Burse. 21-9 Chargers.

9:06 Driskel misses his next two throws and the Niners go three-and-out. The way he’s playing, he’ll be on the 49ers’ practice squad this season.

9:16 Christian Ponder is in at QB. He scrambles up the middle for two yards on third-and-3 just before the end of the third quarter.

9:21 Christian Ponder throws a long touchdown pass to Blake Bell, but Bell is flagged for pushing off. Phil Dawson misses a 47-yard field goal a few plays later.

9:23 Christian Ponder is averaging 8.5 yards per pass attempt and his QB rating is 93.1 after two series.

9:31 Garrison Smith sacks Bercovici for a six-yard loss and the Chargers punt a couple plays later. Smith may be this year’s Demarcus Dobbs — an undrafted defensive lineman who makes the team.

9:38 Ponder completes a 21-yard pass to Je’Ron Hamm on third-and-15, then scores a touchdown on a one-yard run two plays later. 21-16 Chargers.

9:46 Marcus Rush just stripped Bercovici. Niners recovers. Rush has to make this team.

9:48 Ponder runs for a five-yard touchdown. His second touchdown run of the night. Kelvin Taylor runs up the middle for the two-point conversion.

9:51 If the Niners cut Ponder, will the Vikings sign him?

9:51 Marcus Rush just picked off a pass. He’s a lock to make the team. Say goodbye to Corey Lemonier.

9:59 Kelvin Taylor runs eight yards into the end zone for a touchdown on second-and-goal. Can the Niners still sneak him onto the practice squad? He’s been effective in the fourth quarter.

10:04 Game over. Niners win 31-21. Stay tuned for grades.

This article has 152 Comments

  1. I don’t expect CK to play well, but would not be surprised if he did.

    If he does play well it will be attributed (correct or not) to going against scrubs.

  2. Colin could play all 4 quarter finish 30/30 with 450 yards, 3 TD’s and 0 INT’s and he still wont be the starter week 1.

    How long he plays will be the only aspect I’m interested in. If he’s in and then out, he’s gone, they’ll cut him tomorrow. If he plays deep into the 2nd quarter then they probably plan on keeping him at least a little while longer.

  3. I don’t have any expectations for tonight and I won’t place much value on the results either way.

    Hopefully it’s entertaining.

  4. My mind has been stuck on football all week. Mostly about…

    – Armstead’s injury being more serious than reported
    – Ellington out for the season
    – Emergence of Blair, Brown
    – The good play of Davis, Davis and Davis
    – Health of Dorsey and Dial
    – Robinson and Redmond

      1. Hard to compare. I don’t have all 22. Been watching preseason games on youtubes after the fact.

        The have really been testing Blair in alot of roles. The Niners have been telling Blair to shoot gaps and Gamble, while having Buckner play 2-gap vs starters.

        I’m hopeful for both.

          1. Probably not, but he seems to be trying more bull rushes, whereas Blair seems encouraged to play instinctive, jumping into any gap he wants. The disrupter role with less concern about draw plays or QB runs.

  5. I thinking to stay in the NFL altogether he will need to be 21 of 23, for 220 yards passing, 60 yards rushing, no turnovers and above all less, look like a pro doing it!

  6. I’m usually against short(for their position) players but I’d love to see the 49ers give Matt Johnson a try out. Despite glowing reviews during camp the Bengals released him. He’s a better QB then Driskel.

  7. From Matt M:

    “Center Daniel Kilgore is not suited up. The only O-lineman running with the starters who’s suited up is veteran Zane Beadles. Hmmm.”

    Hmmm indeed. Beadles is no sure thing to start the 1st game.

    1. If Garnett starts vs the Rams it could signal the team could be even more run heavy than we thought… at least early on.

  8. Just to set the bar for fan anger. For me it was a Bears game at Kezar, and NFL founder George Poppa Bear Halas ran onto the field at the ten yard line protesting a 49er turn over. An official from the other side of the field changed the call to pass interference.

    The stadium turned into a primitive force, with a single voice that stopped the game for 18 minutes.

    What will it be like tonight?

  9. NFL Network, showing the Raiders and the Seahawks in my neighborhood, cut to the national anthem in the Niner – Charger game to show CK on a knee. I guess it was worth delaying the kick in Oakland for that moment.

    1. Storm during the National Anthem fizzled out.

      Storm on the field led to 2 scores.

      Gabbert may still be the starter, but Kaep made the choice difficult.

  10. Seems like Lynch is having little to no impact against 2nd teamers and he is supposedly our best OLB. My feed is not that good tonight so I’m not sure.

  11. My biggest complaint so far this pre season is the defense can’t seem to get off the field. Hope that’s not for things to come. And it hasn’t been because of the offense.

  12. I think Kap has played pretty well………. my only gripe is the dink and dunk nature so far- they are going to have to demonstrate that they can challenge down the field or we’re going to see Seattle put 8 in the box again daring our QB’s to beat them, and prob AZ too, and we know how that has gone………. I do appreciate that it is only preseason and that Chip likes to run verticals……. I second the call to get Wilhoite off the field- I have seen way too much of his slow butt over the years.

  13. Nice to finally see the secondary make a play on the ball. Robinson should be a starter next year, if he keeps his nose clean….

  14. Well Driskel looks atrocious tonight. Practice squad for sure. Safe to say unless Gabbert resurrects his career we will be drafting a QB early next year.

        1. Torrey will still be valuable for keeping the secondary honest, but he might become discouraged if he’s not an integral part of the offense.

  15. The angry military town of San Diego didn’t come up with much boo power. What interested me is how much quieter booing is than screaming for the visiting team’s offense. Nothing like Kezar years ago.

              1. That’s exactly what I would do. Ponder has experience and seems to fit this offense. Yah, yah, he hasn’t played VS starters, but he’s only just cracking the surface of this playbook.

                Driskel can probably clear waivers after tonight, which is actually a bit of a lucky break for Chip and Trent.

              2. Again, projecting 2017, it’s just too risky to keep Kaepernick if he Ian’t starting material.

                And he clearly isn’t, which means a 14+ million dollar disaster for next year if Kap gets hurt.

              3. I agree. Kap will be cut. When Gabbert starts to struggle, they will start Ponder. The 49ers and Kap need to move on.

              4. And let’s not forget, Trent has a history with Ponder. Wanted to draft Ponder, Harbaugh wanted Kap and Trent deffered to Harbaugh begrudgingly!

              5. And Ponder has a new prospective this year, and a new attitude. He’s finally allowing himself to relax and have fun. And it shows.

        1. Why in the world would you keep Ponder. What purpose does that serve if you keep Kaep as the #2 which it seems like they will do.. They will only keep 2 QBs

          1. Will they only keep 2? That was Harbaugh/Tomsula. With Kelly, I’m not so sure, esp. after Kelly admitted that he’s needed multiple QBs in the past due to injuries.

            1. Kelly mentioned pre game that on game day they will only carry two QBs.. He said special teams value for guys is really important. Meaning other positions not QB of course. You only keep Gabbert and Kaep. Both will play this year. Cut ponder and keep Driskel as a practice squad player.

              1. Yes, on game day they will only carry 2. That is, on the 46 man roster for game day they will suit up 2 QBs. He hasn’t mentioned anything about how many QBs on the 53.

              2. Exacto, Scooter. I agree with Grant. Cut Kap and make Ponder the number 2. Sure he’s only played against scrubs, but he’s played well, so he’s ready to move up to the next level. He’s got many more years of experience than Driskel. I haven’t been impressed by Driskel and tonight he was abysmal.

  16. Maybe all of this Kaepernick nonsense will lead to Gabbert and Driskel playing out the year, the 49ers finishing with the worst record, and drafting #1 in 2017.

    Then we draft Deshaun Watson, go from worst to first next year with the second black QB to win a Superbowl in 5 years.

    How about that for racial progress Kaepernick? It’ll all be happening while you’re on the BLM tour with Jeremiah Wright and Al Sharpton. Your chickens will all come home to roost.

  17. I like what I saw from Ponder……. not sure they want to keep 3 QB’s, especially w Kap seeming to be ok. I know he gets bashed by MIN fans, but he played great against the 49ers a couple of years ago.

    Rams -2.5 week 1 ( my guess was Rams -2). I would take the 49ers.

      1. Just like after his first game, you have to factor in who he is playing against. He looks good… against mostly guys that will be out of the NFL.

        In saying that, if they cut Kaep I think they should keep Ponder and he should be the #2. While he wasn’t a good QB for the Vikings, he did show he is capable of playing in the NFL with some success.

        1. And system makes a difference folks.

          Ponder could be taylor made for this system. Makes quick decisions, repetitive accuracy, and has a knack for finding ways to make plays with his legs.

        2. There lies the problem… Ponder and Kaep both played against guys that won’t be in the nfl past next week. And this week in particular they played against the scrubs on a bad defense… How much value can place on this game?

      1. I just thought of something. If they release Colin and keep Christian, he can hire Kaepernick to finish painting his house….

  18. Fell asleep with the game 21-9 in the 3rd, woke up just in time to see the greatness that is Christian Ponder run for 2 scores.

    1. Ha! I fell asleep at 21-9, as well, Jack. The only difference being, I woke up to see the final score and the players walking off the field. I think I got the better end of the stick.

  19. From I have seen in the preseason I like Ponder as QB. CK7 still looks at one target on every pass. The regulars will pick him apart. He did increase his trade value though.

  20. Ponder should be traded to Minnesota for a conditional third. AP likes him, and Ponder did well leading 3 scores.

    Niners will go with Gabbert and Kaep, cuts Driskel , and hopes he makes it to the PS.

  21. Ponder should make the team ahead of Kaepernick, who the team can’t risk an injury or another tantrum with. They made a bad decision not to pay Denver to take him. Now it’s time to cut him or trade him to Minnesotta.
    Driskel was always p/s bound.
    I don’t think Ponder is better than Kaepernick, I just think the team needs to cut away the cancer.

    1. Looked like Kaep was talking and embracing his team mates, so they accepted him, and Reid even sat down, too. No cancer, must have been a false alarm.

      The National Anthem incident was pretty subdued, and Kaep did not get Boo’ed unmercifully. Looks like it was a tempest in a teapot.

      1. The NFL has a lot of power. They allowed Kaepernick his stage. Now his SF career is over. At the end of the day, Kaepernick signs zero teammate’s paycheck. They will fall in line if the owner cuts Kaepernick.
        Kaepernick needs a fresh start. He’s still young. He stood up for what he believed. He can take that and learn from it. Much like the Michael Vick situation, Kaepernick will need a community with a demographic that supports his cause. Detroit. Philly. Dallas.

        1. Chip likes Kaep. Gabbert did not shine. Driskel not only threw poorly, he made poor decisions. Ponder will be traded, and free up a spot to get a bubble player form a Niner opponent.

          1. Maybe my prediction is based more on hope than reality. I will look forward to seeing if this front office can be creative and obtain some gems over the weekend.
            I respect your view Seb and you’re probably correct, but I am holding out hope that the team moves in another direction and this city gets back to football.

            1. Matt, the whole hullabaloo about the protest did not affect the game, or apparently, the team.

              If Jed wants to win, he will keep Kaep. If he wants Kaep to escape to haunt them for years, he will let his emotions dictate his actions.

  22. The Kaep interview on NFL Network shows additional reason why athletes and performers should stay out of politics. We want to watch and talk about sports! Almost the entire time spot was spent on politics! Crazy. Fans made him rich and he uses that money to diss the game of football. Why doesn’t he see that if this country was truly racist he would not be a multi-millionaire.

  23. This is out on Rotoworld:

    “Colin Kaepernick completed 11-of-18 passes for 103 yards in Thursday’s preseason finale, adding four rushes for 38 additional yards.
    The bigger story will remain what Kap did before the game, taking a knee for the national anthem. This time he was joined by teammate Eric Reid, while Seahawks CB Jeremy Lane did the same thing before Seattle’s game against the Raiders. Once the pre-game intrigue was over, Kap played relatively well with San Francisco’s backups, failing to set the house on fire but not burning it down, either. Kap appears poised to keep his roster spot, but didn’t challenge Blaine Gabbert this summer. Kap’s main problem is the way he’d slow down Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense. ”

    That last sentence is interesting. Didn’t Kap play mostly from the huddle this evening? If he can’t play the uptempo offense he’s of no use to Kelly.

    1. Maybe Kelly had the O huddle because he wanted to shorten the game. Get the team back into the locker room intact. Game 4 is closest to a glorified practice anyway.

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