Chargers-49ers a matter of QB battles

INGLEWOOD (News4usonline) – The good thing about the preseason is that teams usually have a chance to clean up some things. For both the Los Angeles Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers that means erasing sloppy ball. In the Chargers’ second preseason game played this summer at SoFi Stadium, penalties became the running theme for both teams.

San Francisco accounted for 13 of the game’s 25 penalties. The Chargers answered the bell with 12. Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said playing clean football results in having a winning formula for a ballclub.

“We’re always trying to emphasize clean football because that’s ultimately what leads to a successful team,” Staley said. “You don’t want to beat yourself and you want to give yourself a chance to win. You don’t want to lose those hidden yards because of penalties.”

It’s the preseason, so cleaning up all of the flags being thrown around is a work in progress for most teams before the regular season comes around. The real storyline to the Chargers-49ers game is the running quarterback competition that both teams are dealing with.

Courtesy photo: Los Angeles Chargers

There’s a real competition battle going on for the No. 2 quarterback slot for the Chargers. Easton Stick and Chase Daniel are fighting it out on the field for the right to backup Justin Herbert. For the second week in a row, the performances flipped.

In a preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams, Daniel outperformed Stick. Against the 49ers, it was Stick who looked like the more polished signal-caller out on the field. While the numbers might say otherwise, Stick, who started the game against the 49ers, appeared to have more control of what’s going on, completing 10 of his 14 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in the Chargers’ 15-10 defeat to San Francisco.

You might also add a 115.8 QBR rating next to Stick’s performance. For Daniel, the evening was not so kind. Daniel went 14 for 21 for 60 yards, threw an interception, and finished the night with a 50.3 QBR. After the game, Staley talked about the backup quarterback battle.

“In the first game when Chase went first, Easton had a similar circumstance. In the first game, I know that L.A. [Rams] didn’t play a lot of people, so it’s a little different tonight,” Staley said. “San Francisco played a lot more guys, especially up front. It’s been a good competition between those two. I thought both did a good job tonight. We have to avoid the interception. But under the circumstances, we gave ourselves the chance to win.”

Courtesy photo: Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers’ lone touchdown came when Stick ad-libbed on a scramble and hit rookie wide receiver Joshua Palmer in the back of the endzone to complete a 3-yard scoring toss. On the play, Stick, who was flushed out of the pocket, scrambled to his right side.

With San Francisco defenders flying at him and running out of turf before he hit the sideline, Stick pumped a couple of times before lofting a pass to a wide-open Palmer.

“It was a really good job by Josh staying alive,” Stick said. “[RB] Joshua Kelley was working the front line, and Joshua [Palmer] was working the back line there. It wasn’t a great coverage. They [49ers defense] kind of got us there. Credit to the guys finding a way and making a play.”

The ad-libbing he did was just a matter of playing football, Stick said.

“You are just kind of playing at that point and it got stretched so far that, it was either someone was going to pop out late or just tossed out of bounds,” commented Stick. “Luckily for us, Josh [Palmer] found a way to uncover in the back. [There were] a few guys attached to me and there was enough of a window to kind of sneak it in there.”

San Francisco has their own quarterback thing brewing between rookie Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and veteran Jimmy Garoppolo. After 49rs’ first drive, Garoppolo took a backseat to Lance. There were times that Lance played like a rookie with some shaky moments.

Courtesy photo: Los Angeles Chargers

Then again, Garoppolo had a regretful moment of his own when he threw too high to one of his receivers. The pass found its way into the hands of Chargers rookie cornerback Asante Samuel for an interception.

“I got to get it down, no doubt,” Garoppolo said. “But one play, you can’t dwell on it for too long. Wish we would have had more opportunities to go back out there, but I think it was like a 16-, 17-play drive, so like I said, a lot of good came out of it. Just wish I had that one a little lower.”

Samuel was at the right place at the wrong time. He was actually trailing the receiver at the time of the interception, Staley said.

“He was behind on the route,” Staley remarked. “They’d shown that route — it’s a standard third-down route for that team. They have a wide departure and then they bring it back in. We would’ve liked to see him more connected on that route.”

Although he had an up and down game, Lance found a way to connect with a couple of his receivers for scores. For the game, Lance completed 8 of his 14 throws for 102 yards and two touchdowns. On both scoring passes, Lance flashed that rocket arm of his. But being familiar with the opponent may have helped him a bit.

The Chargers and 49ers engaged in two joint practices in the past week before playing each other in the preseason game. Lance said that was good.

“I think this week was huge just for my development just for a player not even necessarily for tonight, if that makes sense,” Lance said. “I think I learned so much this week, and practice against another defense, getting to be around different guys, and have a different experience, practice in a different setting. So I learned a lot for sure and, at the same time, got to take all those reps this week that I wouldn’t have against our defense back in Santa Clara.”

Dennis J. Freeman

Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He is also the publisher and editor of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. Dennis has more than two decades of reporting experience. His beats include covering sports, social and racial justice, and equal rights. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University. "I write what I'm passionate about."