ReFo: Chargers @ 49ers, Wk 16
The way this game started you would have thought it was the San Diego Chargers who were already out of the playoff race and the San Francisco 49ers needing the win to keep pace. As the 49ers jumped out to a three-score lead you would be excused for thinking they were making a statement that they are better than their late-season slump, but by the end of the game they had only served to extend that slump for four straight defeats.
Beaten up early by the 49ers’ power running attack, the Chargers rebounded and — thanks to a Jekyll and Hyde from Philip Rivers that came good when it mattered most — were able to overturn the deficit and keep the pressure on their wildcard rivals.
San Diego Chargers – Performances of Note
D.J. Fluker, RT: +4.7
Breakdown: Fluker has struggled at times in his second season, but came up with his best game last night, contributing most on the Chargers’ game-winning drive in overtime. Holding his own in pass protection, Fluker and backup right guard Jeremiah Sirles were the focus of the Chargers’ ground attack with some powerful double-team blocks on the game-winning drive to ensure Ronnie Brown kept San Diego chugging into field goal range for Nick Novak’s winning kick.
Signature Stat: Last season Fluker finished the regular season with his two highest grades of the season in Weeks 16 (+3.4 vs Oakland) and 17 (+4.5 vs Kansas City); after last night’s display he’s halfway towards repeating that trick.
Melvin Ingram, OLB: -4.2
Breakdown: Since his return to the lineup we have been used to seeing Ingram make big plays for the Chargers’ defense but last night was more of a struggle for him. He did produce some pressure, notably drawing a hold from Joe Staley which wiped an Anquan Boldin touchdown off the board, but it was a poor night in run defense (including a pair of missed tackles) and a senseless penalty on Colin Kaepernick which were more indicative of his overall performance.
Signature Stat: It has been feast or famine for Ingram since his return in Week 11; four grades of +1.1 or above paired with last night’s -4.2 and a -2.7 at home to St Louis.
Philip Rivers, QB: +0.5
Breakdown: When he was baited into a pick-6 by Antoine Bethea with 10 minutes left in the first half, you might have thought that was curtains for the Chargers’ playoff hopes, but courtesy of some excellent intermediate passing, Rivers hauled San Diego back from the brink. San Francisco missed other chances to put the game away but Rivers was able to exploit the 49ers being so deep on the depth chart at inside linebacker, picking up the majority of his plays in front of the safeties and between the numbers.
Signature Stat: Rivers went 11-of-16 for 196 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on passes aimed between 10 and 19 yards downfield.
San Francisco 49ers – Performances of Note
Quinton Dial, NT: +3.9
Breakdown: After a starring role in the preseason opener in Baltimore, Dial has taken his time to make a similar impact in the regular season, but picked up where he left off last week in Seattle with another strong showing. His five stops topped his season best of three against the Saints in Week 11 and his five pressures (1 Sk, 4 Hu) weren’t too far short of doubling his season total entering this game (1 Sk, 1 Ht, 6 Hu), getting plenty of joy working the bullrush against Chargers’ center Trevor Robinson.
Signature Play: At Q4 1.04 Dial drove Robinson straight back into Rivers, taking the block into Rivers’ legs as he threw to force an incompletion.
Aldon Smith, OLB: -2.7
Breakdown: The raw production hasn’t dropped for Smith but the big plays that jump off the screen at you have been lacking as they were again last night. His four hurries were solid production but none came that quickly and on 48 pass rushes that represents a fairly meager return for a player of Smith’s caliber. King Dunlap certainly got the better of this encounter in pass protection and Smith offered little in run defense either.
Signature Stat: After converting six of his 13 pressures into hits (four) and sacks (two) in his first two games this season Smith has since converted only one of 16 in the 49ers’ four-game losing streak.
Colin Kaepernick, QB: -0.6
Breakdown: A Jekyll and Hyde performance for Kaepernick — much like his opposite number, but without the jubilation of a come-from-behind victory to mask the more suspect areas of his performance. Encapsulated in a one-minute spell, Kaepernick went from the ridiculous to the sublime, coughing a fumble for a touchdown on a sack through indecision and ball security before re-establishing the 49ers’ two-score lead with that 90-yard score. Kaepernick re-discovered his threat as a runner last night but was once again inefficient as a passer.
Signature Stat: For the second time in the 49ers’ losing streak Kaepernick failed to complete a single pass aimed more than 10 yards down the field.
PFF Game Ball
Early mistakes were forgotten as Philip Rivers hauled the Chargers back to tie the game late on before letting the ground game take over on the game-winning drive in overtime.
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