California

Winners and losers from Los Angeles’ loss

The Chargers fell to the 49ers on Sunday Night Football, falling 5-4 after a 22-16 loss. While the first half was an encouraging performance, the second half brought disappointment and eventual defeat.

Here’s who encouraged and who disappointed on Sunday.

Stud: Justin Herbert

I don’t care that Herbert threw the game-winning interception, especially since his arm was hit by 49ers defenseman Charles Omenihu when he tried to throw the ball. In fact, the franchise’s face built on its momentum over the past week and looked like the quarterback we’re used to seeing in powder blue. I didn’t count less than four spectacular throws in the first half to get the ball in the field. And yes, that performance didn’t carry over into the second half. But there are reasons for this, namely that the Chargers couldn’t hold their extra blockers to chip the San Francisco rushers as they got into increasingly obvious passing situations. Verdict: Herbert is on the right track and his performance against one of the best defenses in the league is encouraging.

Duds: Bryce Callahan

Callahan has played well this season, and in fairness that has more to do with how Chargers Corners have played coverage this season than anything Callahan does in particular. In general, LA played extremely soft coverage, especially in third down situations. But of the three main corners (Asante Samuel Jr., Michael Davis and Callahan), the veteran struggled the most to click and close receivers in these situations, leading to some additional conversions today that the Chargers couldn’t afford to give up . Callahan was also able to make a big tackle for the loss in the fourth quarter, but was caught just enough by 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to force him out of the game.

Stud: Khalil Mack

Mack pockets and disrupts opponents’ timing, even without anyone on the defensive line helping him. Towards the end of the third quarter, Mack came with a crucial first down sack to put the 49ers behind the sticks, followed by further pressure on 2nd and 20th to force an incompletion. Earlier in the quarter, the former All-Pro also came outside and cleared a swing pass before he could get going. It was a microcosm of Mack’s season: elite game after elite game after elite game in the passing game. With his seventh sack of the year, he also climbed into the top ten in the league leaderboard.

Dud: Finishing ability

At 6:42 in the second quarter, the Chargers led that game 13-3. Herbert and the offensive marched up and down the field while the defense bowed but did not break as San Francisco did not convert. For the rest of the game, LA was outplayed 19-3 by the 49ers, who found a rhythm to lead the ball and got Jimmy Garoppolo and Brandon Aiyuk making enough plays to keep the passing game going. Even as Los Angeles got into advantageous positions, they couldn’t finish the drive: after Aiyuk fumbled in the first quarter, the Bolts went three and out before kicking a field goal. Later in the second quarter after LA blocked a punt, the Chargers had a nine-play-drive stall inside the ten and settled for another field goal. San Francisco simply played a better second half than Los Angeles Sunday night, adding to the theme of the Chargers not being able to knock out teams.

Stud: Chippers

In the first half in particular, LA seemed to have the answers to San Francisco’s pass rush, mostly about both holding a tight end and running back in formation to chip edge rushers and help Jamaree Salyer and Foster Sarell. As the game progressed, the Chargers had to expand their formation, leaving their duels on an island, which led to what felt like constant pressure on Herbert in the second half. That difference was noticeable and speaks to the performance of Austin Ekeler, Isaiah Spiller, Gerald Everett, and Tre’ McKitty blocking and unblocking players early.

Dud: First down runs

We’ve talked extensively about Joe Lombardi’s creativity, or lack thereof, this season, but I’ve always been on his side on the running game scheme because there’s been at least the semblance of fresh ideas in that department. Tonight, however, Lombardi picked runs on 8 of the Chargers’ 22 first downs, averaging a yard on a two-yard long. To be fair to Lombardi, part of that falls on the staff: it’s difficult to manage the ball effectively when all you have to do is fight with your left and right tackles against the league’s best-managed defense. But all game long, the Chargers couldn’t generate momentum by getting the ball in first place, and it put them behind the sticks, forcing Herbert to save drives with heroic plays in second and third and long shots.

Stud: Special teams

If you’ve followed my work, you know I’m always the first to give credit to special teams. The Chargers took advantage of an imperfect snap between Taybor Pepper and Mitch Wishnowsky that caused the 49ers’ punter to flip the ball before kicking it, giving Nick Niemann time to block the kick and the Chargers clear the ball on the 46- Line to give yard from San Francisco. Third-row kicker Cameron Dicker remained perfect in his NFL career with three field goals and an extra point. I thought JK Scott could have been a bit better and the kickoff return unit still needs some tinkering, but by and large the Special Teams unit continues to be the only one that gets the job done every 60 minutes week after week . Hats off to them.

Dud: Hurt Curses

It’s just ridiculous at this point. The chargers have tries replace their training staff. They have tries Implement transfer policies from Brandon Staley’s time with the Rams when they were one of the healthiest teams in the league. They have tries Move the entire team to the 5 in an hour and a half! Nothing works; This team attracts injury as a wounded animal attracts vultures. Otito Ogbonnia, the rookie we were so excited to see that we cut Jerry Tillery down to give him more playing time? Couldn’t put weight on his knee. Christian Covington, his successor? chest injury. Gerald Everett, Justin Herberts only Target that hadn’t been hurt yet? groin problems. LA finished that game without RB2, WR1, WR2, WR4, TE1, TE2, LT1, RT1, DL2, DL4, DL5, EDGE1, EDGE3, CB1, K1 and K2. LB2 Kenneth Murray also missed time being checked for a concussion. Walk down the street tomorrow and see if someone you know can name a Chargers player named Austin Ekeler who hasn’t injured himself this season. Spoilers: they can’t.

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