Chargers Preseason Primer: The Finale

There are plenty of reasons not to care about the Chargers preseason finale in San Francisco. The standings won't be affected, key starters won't be played, and the 49ers won't field a roster resembling that of a playoff contender. Still, there are some intriguing story lines that make the game worth watching. Here are a few of them…

The inexperienced quarterbacks: No quarterback on the Chargers roster has ever started a game in the pros. Earlier this offseason, A.J. Smith claimed that the team wanted to keep Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and A.J. Feely; now, only the most inexperienced of that trio remains. Young quarterbacks are typically turnover-prone, so it will be interesting to see how this group does running Marty Schottenheimer's ball-control offense. Rivers, for one, feels he is ready for the task.

"I felt like I was able to keep progressing," said Rivers of his progress throughout the offseason. "Now we can really start focusing in as we get closer to the opener."

Meanwhile, Charlie Whitehurst will get an extended look on Friday and his poise in the pocket will determine if the Chargers chase after a veteran to have on the bench.

"I guess I will play a lot of the game and I am very excited about that," said Whitehurst. "I am getting more comfortable, grasping the offense from a mental standpoint."

The debut of Donnie: After missing most of training camp with a back injury, Donnie Edwards is expected to make his preseason debut in San Francisco. Whether he is ridding himself of rust or making a last-ditch effort to showcase his skill set, Edwards will have plenty of reason to play come game time.

The challengers' final charge: This is the last chance for reserve players to jump into the starting line-up before opening day. Bhawoh Jue must show he's healthy; Antonio Cromartie must show he's up to speed; and Leander Jordan must show he can be more consistent than a rookie with a club for a hand. If there were ever a chance for these three to shine, it would be against a 49ers team in full-on rebuilding mode.

The players on the bubble: There are several fringe players fighting for spots on the active roster. Tight ends Ryan Krause and Aaron Shea, cornerbacks Cletis Gordon and Markus Curry, safety Andre Lott and running back Ray Perkins are all on the bubble. Each must find a way make some standout plays (or simply play, in Shea's case) to give Schottenheimer a reason to keep him on the team.

"We are looking at this game with the idea that we have a couple of people we want to see with regards to the roster," Schottenheimer said.

The injury bug: The most important goal, and that which the team has the least control over, is to leave San Francisco injury-free. The rigors of preseason play have already claimed Darren Sproles, and it would be a shame to lose another significant contributor. The starters won't play much, but with only 74 players on the roster the team can't protect everybody.

The final score: The win won't count in the standings, but winning still matters. Football is a game of momentum and winning is contagious. However, the 49ers were undefeated last preseason, and then went on to post the worst record in the league's worst division. Leaving San Francisco with a win would be nice, but getting to Oakland ready for a winning season is what this game is all about.


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