CHARGERS vs. 49ERS

The San Diego Chargers wrap up the preseason on Friday night, Aug. 29 against the San Francisco 49ers in Qualcomm Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Two days later the Chargers must cut their roster from the current 69 to 53.

KFMB-TV, Channel 8 in San Diego, will carry the game live with Ron Pitts and Billy Ray Smith calling the action. Fox Sports Net 2 will televise the game throughout the rest of Southern California. 760 KFMB AM will broadcast the game on radio with Dan Rowe calling play-by-play and Hank Bauer providing game analysis.

The Chargers come into Friday's game fresh off a 19-17 come-from-behind victory over the Houston Texans last Saturday night at Reliant Stadium. The Bolts also released 10 players from the team and hope to get a final look at a few different positions as they set their roster for opening day.

San Francisco has had a tremendous preseason, getting off to a 3-0 start with victories coming against Kansas City, Oakland and New Orleans. The 49ers defeated the Saints, 27-12, last Saturday night at 3-Com Park.

This will be the 32nd meeting in the preseason series which dates back to 1968. San Francisco leads the series, 17-14, including a 27-3 win in 2002 at 3-Com Park. San Diego was victorious the last time the teams met in San Diego, posting a 25-24 win in 2001.

CHARGERS SALUTE MILITARY WITH 2-FOR-1 TICKET OFFER

Friday night's game against San Francisco will mark the team's 15th annual Salute to the Military. In honor of the occasion, the Chargers and the City of San Diego are offering 2-for-1 tickets for active military, veterans and dependents. Anyone who presents a valid Military ID at the Chargers Ticket Office at Qualcomm Stadium before Thursday, Aug. 28 will be eligible to purchase two general admission tickets for the price of one. The Salute to the Military will include a halftime fireworks show while the field is covered with the 100-yard Super Flag, a tribute to San Diegans who have lost their lives in the line of duty and military displays throughout the plaza concourse. For questions about Salute to the Military, fans can contact the Chargers Ticket Office at (877) CHARGERS.

The San Diego Chargers and the City of San Diego have also teamed up with the San Diego Blood Bank to offer a 2-for-1 ticket voucher for anyone who donates blood through Aug. 27 at the Blood Bank.

The ticket vouchers are redeemable for general admission seats for Friday's game against San Francisco. The vouchers must be redeemed at the Chargers' Ticket Office, located at Gate E at Qualcomm Stadium. Fans interested in donating blood to receive the 2-for-1 ticket voucher should contact the San Diego Blood Bank at (800) 469-7322.

49ers AT A GLANCE

The 49ers, much like the Chargers are trying to get younger across the board. They released safety Scott Frost, cornerback Fred Weary, guard (and former Charger) DeMingo Graham and defensive tackle Byron Frisch. All were veteran players with more than five years of NFL experience.

"We got to this point by being young," general manager Terry Donahue said. "You can get old in a hurry. We want to take steps to prevent that."

The defending NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers begin their first season under the direction of Head Coach Dennis Erickson. Last season, the 49ers captured the NFC West with a regular season mark of 10-6. In the postseason, the 49ers defeated the New York Giants in a Wild Card Playoff game which was one of the most memorable playoff games in NFL history. It was a game which San Francisco trailed by 24 points (38-14) with four minutes left in the fourth quarter before running off 25 unanswered points to secure a 39-38 victory. The following week though, the 49ers Super Bowl hopes were dashed when they were defeated, 31-6 by the eventual World Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium. Under Erickson, the 49ers seem poised to make another run at the coveted Lombardi Trophy.

Most recently, Erickson was the head coach at Oregon State University, where he guided the Beavers to a mark of 31-17 between the 1999-2002 seasons. In 2000, he was named National Coach of the Year by The Sporting News after leading OSU to an 11-1 mark, a Pac-10 Conference co-championship, and a 41-9 victory over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. This is Erickson's second tour of duty as an NFL head coach, having previously been the head coach for the Seattle Seahawks for four seasons from 1995-98. Erickson's teams finished 31-33 during his tenure with the Seahawks. Erickson's previous head coaching stops were all on the collegiate level, including Miami (1989-94), Washington State (1987-88), Wyoming (1986) and Idaho (1982-85).

The 49ers success rests squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Jeff Garcia, a three-time Pro Bowler who passed for 3,344 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2002. Garcia completed over 62 percent of his pass attempts, going 328 of 528, while only throwing 10 interceptions. He is the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown to interception ratio, throwing 2.21 touchdown passes for every interception. Garcia's favorite target is another three-time Pro Bowler, wide receiver Terrell Owens. A unanimous All-Pro selection each of the last two seasons, Owens caught a career-high 100 passes for 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2002. Down in the trenches, San Francisco's running game is anchored by 11th year veteran Garrison Hearst, a 972-yard rusher who scored a career-best eight touchdowns in 2002. Hearst is a two-time Pro Bowl selection.

On defense, linebacker Derek Smith was San Francisco's leading tackler in 2002 with 138 tackles. Fellow linebacker Julian Peterson, a Pro Bowler in 2002, ranked second with 104 stops. Safety Tony Parrish was voted All-Pro after leading the 49ers with seven interceptions, while defensive end Andre Carter led the squad with 12.5 sacks.

Jeff Chandler handles the kicking chores for the 49ers. As a rookie in 2002, Chandler hit eight of 12 field goal attempts with a long of 47 yards.

Notes:

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Josh Shaw was suspended Tuesday for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Newly signed defensive end Chidi Ahanotu will play in Friday night's exhibition finale in San Diego.

A LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEK'S CHARGERS-TEXANS GAME

After three preseason tries, the Chargers finally cracked into the win column with a 19-17 come-from behind victory over the Houston Texans before a crowd of 70,007 at Reliant Stadium. Rookie kicker Mackenzie Hoambrecker helped erase a 17-13 deficit by kicking two fourth quarter field goals, including a Reliant Stadium record 53-yarder with 4:45 remaining and a 36-yarder with 20 seconds remaining, to lift the Chargers to victory.

Drew Brees made the start at quarterback and the Chargers were slow coming out of the gate while playing without the starting backfield of LaDainian Tomlinson and Lorenzo Neal. The Chargers fell behind early, 10-0, before Brees led an 11-play, 51-yard drive to set up a 46-yard Steve Christie field goal to tighten the score, 10-3. After the defense forced the Texans three-and-out, Eric Parker had an apparent 88-yard punt return touchdown called back due to a holding penalty. Undeterred, Brees and the offense traveled 79 yards in nine plays and Brees capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to David Boston to even the score at 10-10. It was Brees first touchdown pass of the preseason and Boston's first touchdown catch as a Charger. Brees gave way to Doug Flutie just before halftime after completing 10 of 17 for 118 yards and the score. Flutie played just two offensive series, completing nine of 14 for 76 yards. He led a 12-play, 42-yard drive early in the third quarter which stalled on downs at Houston's 30-yard line.

Cleo Lemon, in competition with Seth Burford for the third quarterback position, finished out the game under center. Lemon entered the contest with a 13-10 lead, but watched from the sidelines as Houston put together a 13-play, 87-yard drive that ended with a 27-yard touchdown pass from David Carr to Jabar Gaffney to give Houston a 17-13 advantage. Lemon responded under pressure by leading a nine-play, 39-yard drive of his own which ended with Hoambrecker's 53-yard effort. A three-and-out by the Bolts' defense gave San Diego the football back at the 50-yard line. Lemon then drove the offense to the 17-yard line, a drive which included a 24-yard completion to Terry Charles on a fourth-down-and-eight play that set up Hoambrecker's game-winning kick.

Statistically the game was evenly matched even though San Diego's starting offense retreated to the sidelines in the second quarter, while Houston's starting offense played well into the fourth. San Diego's trio of quarterbacks did a nice job of spreading the ball around, completing passes to 12 different receivers. Playing without Tomlinson, Houston outrushed San Diego, 110 yards to 77, but the Chargers outgained the Texans through the air, 264 yards to 205.

On defense, middle linebacker Zeke Moreno had a team-high seven stops while safety Vernon Fox and defensive end Otis Leverette each recorded six. The Chargers collected two sacks, one by Marcellus Wiley and the other by rookie defensive end Omari Hand on the final play of the game. Safety Jerry Wilson led the squad with two special teams tackles.


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