San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick headed onto the field for the team's first possession of the game amid boos from the crowd. Those boos continued throughout the 49ers' opening possession. However, the Kaepernick led offense answered with a 16-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that ate up over 8 minutes of clock and ended with a 1-yard run into the end zone by RB DuJuan Harris. A failed two-point conversion gave the 49ers the early 6-0 lead.
Kaepernick was 6 of 8 for 58 yards passing in that opening drive. He also ran the football for 30 yards. The first possession score by the 49ers was the first of preseason. In fact, the 49ers offense had not yet gained a first down during their first possession in preseason.
Prior to kickoff, the 49ers quarterback once again sat during the National Anthem – something that he has been doing all of preseason in protest of what he describes as "unjust" actions by the country. However, this time he appeared to be joined by teammate Eric Reid, who did not play against the Chargers. The actions by Kaepernick have dominated headlines since the 49ers' loss to the Green Bay Packers last Friday – the game where the protest was discovered.
I wonder if #49ers FS Eric Reid suggested to take a knee w/Kap during Chargers game when they had 'players only' meeting? He's a leader.— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) September 2, 2016
Kaepernick had been sitting during the National Anthem during the entire preseason, but he did not play in the 49ers' first two games nor did he suit up, so it went unnoticed. Tonight's game against the San Diego Chargers was "Salute to the Military" night at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers do this every year to pay tribute to the thousands of military members who live in the San Diego area. After all, as a naval town, San Diego has the highest number of military personnel on the west coast.
The 49ers lead did not last as the Chargers scored in the second quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by FB Chris Swain, which capped off an 18-play, 76-yard drive. The score and extra point gave the Chargers a 7-6 lead.
As is always the case during the final preseason game, most of the starters for both teams did not play. That left Kaepernick, who continued to get booed prior to each offensive play and was out there for the entire first half, working with mostly the second-team unit. He led a 15-play, 61-yard drive which ended with a Phil Dawson field goal to close out the first half and give the 49ers a 9-7 halftime lead.
Through one half of play, Kaepernick was 11 of 18 for 103 yards passing and 38 yards rushing on four carries. The 49ers offense had 178 yards of total offense in the first half while the defense gave up 132 total yards to San Diego. Time of possession was nearly evenly split between the two teams. The Chargers were held to just 19 yards rushing in the first half while the 49ers gained 75 yards on the ground.
The Chargers opened the second half with an impressive 4-play, 78-yard scoring drive in under two minutes. It was capped off by a 6-yard touchdown run by RB Kenneth Farrow to give San Diego a 14-9 lead. One play prior to the score, Farrow had a 44-yard run that was eventually stopped by 49ers DB L.J. McCray.
Rookie Jeff Driskel took over at quarterback for the 49ers in the second half. After telegraphing his throw, Driskel's first drive was cut short by Chargers DB Adrian McDonald, who intercepted a pass. However, 49ers CB Rashard Robinson got the ball back with an interception of his own off of Chargers QB Mike Bercovici. Driskel followed his first drive with his second interception in as many pass attempts – this time by Chargers CB Trevor Williams.
|San Francisco 49ers Leaders|
This time, the Chargers capitalized off of the turnover and 4-play, 38-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown reception from Bercovici to WR Isaiah Burse. That gave the Chargers a 21-9 lead late in the third quarter.
Driskel finished the night just 1 of 4 for 3 yards passing and two interceptions. He also added 16 yards rushing.
Christian Ponder came into the game in the fourth quarter and led a scoring drive to bring the 49ers within five. He ran the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard line to cap off a 9-play, 54-yard drive that lasted just three minutes.
A fumble recovery by DT Demetrius Cherry gave the ball back to the 49ers late in the fourth quarter and Ponder would get the offense back into the end zone in just 4 plays, once again running it in himself. The 49ers went for two and got it on a conversation by RB Kelvin Taylor to give the 49ers a 24-21 lead. Following an interception of Chargers quarterback Bercovici by preseason standout LB Marcus Rush, Taylor would cap off the ensuing drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to increase the 49ers' lead and end the game with a 31-21 victory.
|Penalties (Yds)||5 (48)||7 (52)|
|Punts (AVG)||2 (41)||2 (51)|
|Time of Pos.||29:17||30:43|
Ponder finished the game 8 of 14 for 101 yards passing, 10 yards rushing, and the two touchdown runs. Taylor led the 49ers rushing with 56 yards and a touchdown. Once again, a wide receiver failed to lead the 49ers in receiving. This time, it was TE Je'Ron Hamm with 65 yards on four receptions.
The 49ers offense finished the game with 385 total yards. 202 came through the air and 183 on the ground. The 49ers defense gave up 268 total yards to the Chargers.
The 49ers will now prepare for their regular season opener against the Los Angeles Rams on September 12 at Levi's Stadium. Who will start at quarterback for that game? Many are betting on Gabbert, but head coach Chip Kelly said that he will make an official announcement once the coaching staff has had time to review the film from tonight. An announcement could come as early as Friday.
While booed by the stadium crowd for much of the game, Kaepernick was greeted by fans following the victory, who shook his hand and posed for pictures with the quarterback.
Notes and Quotes
Chip Kelly stated that no player cuts would take place until Saturday.
As far as a quarterback decision, along with other positions, no decision will be made until the coaching staff has reviewed tonight's game film. Kelly had previously stated that a quarterback decision could come as early as Friday, but said tonight that it may not happen until Saturday, after they have had a chance to sit with Trent Baalke to discuss the roster.
Colin Kaepernick said that he will donate the first $1 million he makes this year to organizations that support his goal.