Charging on

At 3-1, the San Diego Chargers have high expectations. On Wednesday, head coach Marty Schottenheimer was fuming with his team but by Thursday the Bolts were much crisper.

"Much improved," said Schottenheimer. "You have days like that but you have to make sure you don't have two of those back-to-back."

The Chargers hope to ride the honesty of their coach and say welcome to the playoffs.

OK, it's a bit of a stretch with the tied-for-first-place Chargers facing the mediocre 49ers on Sunday in San Francisco.

But Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips promises the game with feature a playoff-like intensity. That's how the Chargers are approaching this game and every other one, according to Phillips.

He promises they will forget about their big Sunday night win over the Steelers, zero in on the 49ers and avoid any traps the NFL schedule-makers might have in store for them.

"Just go out there and practice every day as if we are playing the world champs," Phillips said. "For us, we're playing for the playoffs. And (the 49ers) are in our way to get to the playoffs."

The Chargers have reached the postseason just once since 1995. And among the reasons they haven't been invited to the playoff party is they stumble against teams they should beat.

Like 2-3 San Francisco, who won but four times last year and just once at home.

"We got to go out there - we have no choice -- and play out hearts out," Phillips said. "We are practicing as if we are practicing for the playoffs. "I can tell you right now our tempo is going to be a playoff-tempo. We know how important it is to us to get to the next level, so that is why we are going to play with that intensity."

The Niners are coming off a win too, although it came at the expense of the woeful Raiders and not the world champion Steelers. But Phillips stresses that the mind-set in the locker room is such that the Chargers won't overlook the 49ers.


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