The third week of the preseason is typically when starters receive the most playing time during preseason before tapering down for the final week. Both teams, however, had pulled most of their starters by the middle of the second quarter, giving us another long look at those competing for roster spots.
The Chargers’ were able to move the ball well, especially with their starting offense, but they struggled to finish drives and put points on the board. The 49ers played better as the game went on and emerged victorious as their offense finally found the end zone for the first times of the preseason.
Let’s take a closer look at a few noteworthy performances from each team.
San Diego Chargers — Performances of Note
Corey Liuget, DE, +5.5
Breakdown: Liuget started the day off strong with a tackle for loss on the first play of the game, and he wasn’t done by a long shot. By the time he exited midway through the second quarter, he had added a strip-sack, a hit, a hurry, and a batted pass.
Signature Play: At 9:46 in the first quarter, Liuget beat Mike Iupati almost instantaneously and was able to make contact with Colin Kaepernick’s arm mid-throw to force a fumble inside the 49ers’ 20-yard line.
Johnnie Troutman, RG, -2.2
Breakdown: Troutman did not allow a pressure in 12 pass block snaps, but he struggled in the run game. Ray McDonald controlled him at the line of scrimmage on several occasions, defeating him for three run stops.
Signature Play: On third and one with 8:12 remaining in the second quarter, Troutman was unable to gain any leverage on Mike Purcell, who forced his way into the backfield to trip up Donald Brown short of the sticks.
Philip Rivers, QB, +3.1
Breakdown: Rivers looked in mid-season form as he completed nine of 10 passes, with the lone incompletion coming on a drop by Ladarius Green.
Signature Play: His most impressive throw came on third down as he hit Antonio Gates on an out route near the sideline from the opposite hash with perfect precision.
San Francisco 49ers — Performances of Note
Aaron Lynch, OLB, +5.3
Breakdown: As if the 49ers don’t have enough quality linebackers already, the rookie put forth one of the best games for a linebacker to date this preseason. Lynch tallied two hurries, a sack, two batted passes, and tipped a third pass that led to an interception, all in just 21 pass rush snaps. He also was stout against the run with a couple run stops.
Signature Play: With 8:52 left in the game, Lynch fought to take down the quarterback despite having Michael Harris’ arm wrapped around his neck.
Mike Iupati, LG, -2.4
Breakdown: Sunday was not Iupati’s day as he failed to make a positive impact and was beaten badly on three separate occasions. In addition to the aforementioned strip-sack, Luiget prevailed for a second time later in the quarter, this time to the inside. Luiget once again hit Kaepernick’s arm during his throwing motion, though Iupati slowed Luiget just enough for it to limit the damage.
Signature Play: On the second play of the second quarter, Dwight Freeney quickly crossed Iupati’s face inside to easily tackle LaMichael James for a 2-yard loss.
Jimmie Ward, S, +2.7
Breakdown: The rookie defensive back had another solid outing. He was targeted just twice on 24 snaps in coverage. The lone completion came on a crossing route that he chased down to make the tackle short of the marker on third down. He showed excellent awareness and ball skills when making a diving interception on a pass that had been tipped at the line of scrimmage.
Signature Stat: His 24.0 Cover Snaps per Reception Allowed was the third-highest of the week among cornerbacks.
PFF Game Ball
Both Corey Liuget and Aaron Lynch were exceptional, but the edge goes to Liuget whose performance came at the expense of San Francisco’s starting offensive line.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @PFF_MattC