Preseason Over: Bolts Strike Gold

The Chargers' 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Friday served as a testament to the team's depth. When San Diego was in need of big plays in the second half, Tra Battle intercepted two passes and Eldra Buckey caught a spectacular 2-yard go-ahead touchdown with one hand to send the Bolts into the regular season with a win.

After allowing the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks score touchdowns on their opening drives earlier this preseason, the Chargers returned the favor by taking the opening kickoff and marching down the field against the San Francisco 49ers. Billy Volek guided a precision attack, completing all six of his pass attempts for 55 yards and a touchdown to rookie Mike Tolbert.

Volek checked out after the game's opening drive and made way for Charlie Whitehurst, who played sporadically the rest of the way. Whitehurst completed less than 50 percent of his passes (15 of 32) for 144 yards and the one score to Eldra Buckley. However, he suffered bouts of inconsistency and was nearly intercepted by linebacker Larry Grant on San Diego's final drive.

Luckily for Head Coach Norv Turner, his aggressive defense was enough to offset any offensive deficiencies. The Chargers forced six takeaways -- four interceptions and two fumbles -- in holding the 49ers to under 300 yards from scrimmage (295).

CB Cletis Gordon
Greg Trott/Getty

Cletis Gordon had another big performance, picking off two passes and dropping a third. His strong play throughout the preseason should guarantee him a spot in the dime defensive package. Gordon was aided by a pass rush that netted two sacks, one by Shaun Phillips and the other by Antwan Applewhite.

When the 49ers found the end zone, it was because of breakdowns by San Diego. San Francisco's first score was courtesy a 101-yard kickoff return by Delanie Walker. Gordon and DeJuan Tribble lost outside contain on the play. The 49ers' other score was a 22-yard strike from Alex Smith to Billy Bajema. Safety Paul Oliver gambled and went for the interception on the play, only to get burned.

Several of San Diego's bubble players used the opportunity to make their finals bids for spots on the active roster. Malcom Floyd led all receivers with six catches for 68 yards. Rookie Marcus Thomas led all rushers with 15 carries for 57 yards, including four carries of 7 or more yards. Thomas also chipped in three receptions for 25 yards.

Next up for the Chargers is reducing the roster to 53 players, with the final cuts due by 3 p.m. PDT on Saturday, Aug. 30. The team opens the regular season on Sunday, Sept. 7 with a home game against the Carolina Panthers.

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