Chargers vs. 49ers: Biggest Winners & Losers from Preseason Week 4
The Niners came away with a big 35-3 win over the Bolts, in a game where many of the 49ers second and third-team players looked great in live action. On both offense and defense, San Francisco played their brand of football, establishing total control of the game and never relinquishing it.
After so-so performances against the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos, it was a great bounce-back game before the beginning of the regular season. And on a day where teams are forced to make their final roster cuts, it should help the Niners staff conclude their final decisions.
For the winners and losers from the Week 4 match between the 49ers and Chargers, proceed through the following slideshow.
Winner: Darcel McBath, S
The San Francisco 49ers were looking for someone to step up at safety, and on Thursday night against the Chargers, Darcel McBath made a play.
The 49ers No. 2 defense was in against Phillip Rivers and the Chargers—and with Rivers looking to go down field, the quarterback fired a strike that was read and intercepted by McBath. McBath was disciplined in his assignment, showed good field awareness, quickness and willingness to attack the football.
Overall, he displayed the mentality of a 49ers defender, showing he could be a fit on this team. The safety has some heavy competition with Trenton Robinson, Michael Thomas and C.J. Spillman all back there, but McBath should be proud of what he showed.
If he was going to make a case for himself, he did against the Chargers.
Loser: Cam Johnson, OLB
49ers seventh-rounder Cam Johnson saw his first preseason action of the season. Johnson missed some time due to a knee injury, but recovered in time to play against the Chargers.
In the preseason matchup, Johnson appeared undersized and under-prepared. While he was engaging and playing to his assignments, Johnson was not a dominating force by any means. He failed to look half as good as fellow linebacker, Eric Bakhtiari, who may have stolen Johsnon's job from him in his absence.
Johnson did not look like a player who was ready to contribute in his first year. After Jason Slowey, it would't surprise me to see Cam Johnson be the second drafted player cut by the 49ers.
Winner: Anthony Dixon, RB
Anthony Dixon was running hard again versus the San Diego Chargers. The Week 4 matchup marked the second consecutive game where Dixon stepped up to the plate when challenged.
After receiving an endorsement from the coaching staff, Dixon wanted to prove San Francisco was not wrong for believing in him.
The bulky running back carried the ball 12 times for 55 yards and a touchdown. He was finding the holes and hitting them with authority, rather than dancing behind the line and being dropped for a loss. In the past two games, Dixon has been more focused, running north and south behind this physical offensive line.
Dixon was the high-profile bubble player for the 49ers, but he may have done enough warrant a roster spot this season.
Loser: Chris Owusu, WR
The last game of the preseason was an unfavorable one for wide receiver Chris Owusu. The former Stanford Cardinal had a couple drops while Nathan Palmer and A.J. Jenkins both posted big nights.
Palmer—a fellow UDFA—had three catches for 72 yards, which included a 51-yard score where the receiver had a chance to display his speed and big-play ability.
The 49ers first-round receiver, Jenkins, had four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown as well.
In an evening where the competition was at an all-time high, Owusu failed to show up. He was out-shined by his fellow wide receivers and it may have kept him off a team in 2012. Hopefully, the San Francisco 49ers will be able to sign and retain Owusu on their practice squad.
That's two drops for Owusu.
— Kyle Bonagura (@KyleBonagura) August 31, 2012
Winner: Colin Kaepernick, QB
49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick caught fire against San Diego, playing at a very high level for a half of football. San Francisco's 2011 second-rounder looked extremely promising in live action, exuding total control of the offense.
Without turning the football over, Kaepernick went 12-for-18, for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
He displayed a number of attributes that made him a highly sought after quarterback in the NFL draft. Kaepernick threw darts, extended plays with his legs and delivered the ball with precision. He made several tough throws, even throwing accurately on the run, across his body downfield.
Even though Kaepernick is not pushing to start in 2012, he sure left his imprint on this 49ers fan base. When his time comes, people can feel at ease that Kaepernick is a winner and pure playmaker at the quarterback position.
Bonus Winners: A.J. Jenkins, Eric Bakhtiari & Mike Person
A.J. Jenkins: Jenkins continued to impress in preseason action, looking good in game situations. He was able to show his speed, body control and hands. More than once, Jenkins has made tough, high-focus catches in the exhibition that were very encouraging.
Eric Bakhtiari: The most important thing Bakhtiari did in the preseason was show that he can be a consistent football player. Bakhtiari had a few tackles against the Chargers, one that included a half-sack, increasing his preseason total to 2.5.
Mike Person: 49ers offensive lineman Mike Person looked good in action. Person was brought in by the team last year, and in 2012, he could look to provide depth at tackle. With Alex Boone set to start at right guard, San Francisco needs to have someone that can step up there and doesn't project as an interior lineman. Person showed enough, but the Niners' decision is yet to be made.