Chargers Report Card: Preseason San Francisco

Wrapping up the preseason with a victory is nice. It builds momentum. It also cleared up the final cuts of the year for the San Diego Chargers. Roster cuts will be announced on Sunday by Coach Schottenheimer and perhaps some names omitted from the report card will be gone.

Quarterbacks:

Drew Brees was a perfect 5-for-5 and led the Chargers on two scoring drives. He looked like a starting quarterback in the NFL. He threw with authority and zip. His pass to Eric Parker was what many expected to see from Brees over his first few years of professional ball. Philip Rivers looked ugly to start the game, getting sacked, being called for intentional grounding and then throwing a pick. He came back to complete 13 straight before a drop by Wes Welker. Rivers' passes were mostly dumpoffs and quick hits. He did not have a ton of time and wasn't working with the best of the Chargers receivers. He deserves applause for taking what he could get.

Grade: A-

Running backs:

Jesse Chatman started things off and was rumbling down the field en route to a 30 plus yard run when he fumbled – just the second play of the game. Chatman finished up with 65 yards on eight carries. Michael Turner took up the charge after that and surpassed the 100-yard mark, toting the rock for 116 yards on 24 carries. If anything, he was consistent. All of his yards were earned and he often banged heads with the Niners defense. When he did get tackled, he fell forward. Turner also showed solid hands, nabbing four receptions.

Grade: B

Wide Receivers:

Micah Ross led the receivers in receptions with four. Three, however, were made at the line of scrimmage. Only one was from a route he ran. Eric Parker showed the promise that will make him one of the opening day starters. Reche Caldwell had two catches and looked like he could become the player who was picked in the second round of the 2001 draft. Kevin Dyson got extended time on the field and made one nice catch but has not had a good preseason to date. Schottenheimer said he has the best hands on the team but he may not be able to separate like he could in the past. Kassim Osgood was open on the ball Rivers had intercepted. Beyond that he was used as a blocker and is arguably the best blocker of all the receivers. Overall, beyond the players lining up first string, there was little separation in the secondary. It is a real problem for a team that promises to rotate receivers in.

Grade: C

Tight Ends:

Justin Peelle manned the blocking side and was responsible for some nice sized holes. He left the game early when he dislocated a bone in his thumb. Ryan Krause returned but it was Brock Edwards who has outplayed him. Edwards finds the pockets in the defense and has become a nice outlet receiver.

Grade: B-

Offensive Line:

Shane Olivea got the start and nothing got by him. He did have one of the strangest blocks ever seen. He was pulling to the left and there was man trailing him and he bumped him off just enough with his backside to allow Jesse Chatman to get his big gainer. Toniu Fonoti played his best game as a pro. He was mauling defenders at the line and his pass protection was a plus. Nick Hardwick had another solid game at center. His snaps have been a blessing all preseason. Mike Goff was effective at the point of attack. Roman Oben looked surprisingly good at run blocking, sealing off his man to the outside to open some running lanes inside. The starting unit provided plenty of time for Brees. Can't blame the second unit for the first sack on Rivers. He held onto the ball too long. The Courtney VanBuren injured looked really bad. Here is one person who is glad he will be fine. His loss would have been huge. Phil Bogle, minus the penalty, played with some passion. You have to like the second year man.

Grade: B+

Defensive Line:

Anytime a defense holds the opposition to less than two yards per carry, the credit goes to the defensive line. Everyone on the line gets a nod for playing well. Igor Olshansky had his most active game and appears to be coming along. Jason Fisk has surprised from the nose-tackle position. Jacques Cesaire has had a solid preseason. Adrian Dingle looked better on Thursday than at any point in the preseason. His run defense looks improved. Dave Ball had a sack taken away from him. Otis Leverette did not make much of an impact.

Grade: B+

Linebackers:

Ben Leber got a sack and forced fumble on the quarterback. He had the best burst during camp drills and they are beginning to utilize him as they did early in his rookie season. Donnie Edwards got into the action early and his pass drops remind you how much a guy like this can bring to the defense.. He had some moments where he looked out of place. Howard Hodges made the final tackle of the game with the Niners threatening. It was the Chargers second goal line stand. He also recovered a fumble, albeit while playing special teams. Zeke Moreno proved to be his usual self in a reserve role. He makes plays and forced a fumble. Stephen Cooper had another good game helping out in run support. He also made a key tackle on a pass reception to halt a receiver from reaching the end zone.

Grade: B+

Secondary:

Drayton Florence stepped into the starting role with Sammy Davis out and got beat on two deep passes, although one was called back. Quentin Jammer did not get nearly as much work with the Niners picking on Florence. Jamar Fletcher enters the year as a Charger but is known to have a penchant for penalties and he has to be aware that they are calling it more fiercely these days. He was called for two useless penalties on Thursday. He plays well enough to not need to abuse receivers after five yards. The first team secondary was not impressive overall. They were getting beat pretty regularly. San Francisco hurt themselves. Robb Butler came up with a goalline stop on fourth down to keep the Niners out of the end zone.

Grade: C-

Special Teams:

Wes Welker had been making a name for himself. This isn't college, however, and he got hit hard and coughed up the football on a punt return. It could very well been a sure spot with another smart game – and Schottenheimer prefers smart games as opposed to a player who thinks he has to do something. Mike Scifres boomed the two punts he had and his 58 yarder was so high it allowed Howard Hodges to grab the muffed return. Nate Kaeding was inconsistent on kickoffs. His first was a terrible kick that landed at the 21. He did knock two to the goalline.

Grade: C-

Coaching:

The defense was toned down from its attacking style earlier in the preseason and the coaches allowed their guys to make plays. The offense showed some vintage form without Tomlinson on the field but imitated many plays they will run during the season. It was good practice for the young offensive line. Whatever was said to Rivers at the half, if anything, was worth its weight in gold. Coach Crosby has to take account for Welker not calling a fair catch. Young players get cut for that kind of move. The entire staff kept on their men late in the game and urged them to finish strong. The team responded.

Grade: B


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