NFL Wire News

Hopeful Chargers visit hopeless 49ers


SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Chargers tangle with the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, and what a welcome sight that is for the Chargers.

Although the 49ers made it into the NFC Championship Game the last three years and into the Super Bowl once, at the moment they are worse off than the Chargers.

The reeling 49ers (7-7) won’t be returning to the playoffs after being eliminated by the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

The Chargers (8-6) are trying to make it for consecutive years; but, after two straight home losses, their wheels are a tad wobbly.

“We’ve still got a lot of fight in us,” wide receiver Eddie Royal said.

They need to use all of it in Santa Clara on Saturday night.

The best way for the Chargers to reach the postseason is to win this week and end the season with a victory at Kansas City. If that happens, and Baltimore or Pittsburgh or Cincinnati falters, the Chargers could have a January pulse.

“We’re still not in a great position,” first-year offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “We’ve just got to take care of business and try to go 1-0 this week.”

If so, Reich will have to work some magic from his unit.

With quarterback Philip Rivers playing mediocre and no running game to speak of, the Chargers have scored one touchdown in each of their last two games.

“It’s not about blame,” said Reich, a former NFL quarterback. “It’s about accountability. We have to stick together, but each person, individually, has to find a way to do better.”

At one point, the Chargers were 5-1 and were included in conversations about teams poised for a deep postseason run.

“I’ve been on teams that went to Super Bowls and ones that were 2-14,” Reich said. “And it’s crazy how thin the line is between those two.”

After facing, and losing, to two quarterbacks that like to stay in the pocket, the Chargers must chase around 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Saturday. He is a much different player than the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady or the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning.

“You’ve got to have a great plan and really keep him in the pocket,” defensive coordinator John Pagano said of Kaepernick. “You’ve always got to be aware of that because he is so athletic. What he creates with his feet is probably one of the biggest challenges we have to deal with. We’ve got to make sure we are always aware where he is at and be in our rush lanes.”

In their 13th regular-season meeting, the series is tied at 6-6. The Chargers are looking for their fourth straight over the 49ers but that still won’t make up for the most notable game between these two. While the 49ers have won five Super Bowls, the Chargers have none. And the lone time they advanced to the title game, San Diego was smoked by the 49ers, 49-26, in Super Bowl XXIX.

NOTES: Among those not practicing Wednesday were QB Philip Rivers (back, chest), who is expected to start anyway, WR Keenan Allen (collar bone), RB Ryan Mathews (ankle), DE Corey Liuget (ankle) and TE Ladarius Green (concussion, ankle). … CB Greg Ducre was elevated to the active roster from the practice squad, and the Chargers brought back QB Brad Sorensen to the practice squad. Sorensen was a 2013 seventh-round pick of the Chargers and was waived in August.

About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business