SANTA CLARA, Calif – Christian McCaffrey continues to be the offensive spark for the 49ers., he scored the go-ahead touchdown to propel San Francisco to a 22-16 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday night following their bye week.
At times, the Niners’ offense was stagnant. Jimmy Garoppolo engineered his guys through a quagmire quarter with only three points in their first four possessions. The 49ers (5-4) found themselves down by 10 points in the second quarter before their late rally.
“I was proud of our team today,” San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I want to play better. I want to blow people out. I want to score every time we go. Those guys are tough to get in the end zone against and they did that to us today. But we still found a way to win.”
Garoppolo finished 19-of-28 passing for 240 yards. He scored on a 1-yard touchdown late in the fourth to cut the Chargers lead 13-10 and had a few monster plays on the night. Garoppolo’s best pass of the game came midway through the fourth quarter on a 24-yard completion to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk on third-and-10 from the Chargers’ 26-yard line. Aiyuk led the 49ers with six catches for 84 yards.
On the next play, McCaffery capped off the 49ers 14-play, 67-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown. Since being acquired by San Francisco in a midseason trade, McCaffrey has recorded four touchdowns in just three games.
The 49ers relied heavily on the running game, they rushed 40 times for 158 yards. Garoppolo did not throw any touchdowns and had no interceptions. He’s 10-2 all-time in games where he doesn’t throw a touchdown, a mind-boggling statistic per the Elias Sports Bureau.
“There’s different ways to win this league,” said Garoppolo. “We definitely made it hard on ourselves, that’s for sure. But a lot of resilient guys, a lot of mature guys. … It wasn’t pretty early on, and they were doing some things that gave us trouble, but we stuck with it.”
In his first game back since his knee injury in Week 1, running back Elijah Mitchell led the team with 18 carries for 89 yards. San Francisco’s offense generated 387 total yards against the LA. After allowing 16 points in the first half, the 49ers defense gave a shutout performance in the second half.
It was the second-straight game that San Francisco held an opponent scoreless in the second half dating back to Week 8 in the team’s 31-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium.
“We know that we’re one of the best defenses in the league,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “We’ve shown that throughout the season.”
Justin Herbert completed 21-of-35 for 196 yards with a touchdown pass for the Chargers, who jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their opening possession of the game. Herbert completed all four of his passes then hooked up with wide receiver DeAndre Carter for a 32-yard touchdown pass. LA (5-4) were playing without their starting wide receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen.
“It didn’t go our way today,” said Herbert. “Unfortunately, we fell short.”
Carter led the Chargers with four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Running back Austin Ekeler rushed for a team-high 24 yards on six carries. Herbert had five rushes for 22 yards.
“They did a good job against the run in the second half,” LA’s head coach Brandon Staley said. “We couldn’t get anything going in the run game, and in the passing game it was tight. The rush was coming, and there wasn’t a lot of air in the second and third level to take advantage of.”
The Chargers started two drives in the 49ers territory but managed just three field goals the rest of the game. San Francisco’s defense allowed 238 yards of total offense to LA.
Niners linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who finished tied with Warner for a team-high seven tackles, was ejected late in the second quarter when he was penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Herbert. Herbert was forced to leave the game to be checked for a concussion and backup quarterback Chase Daniel came in for the final three plays of the half. Herbert was deemed healthy by the medical staff to return to the game.
LA had two chances to win the game late, after taking over at their own 1-yard line with 2:03 left to play, the 49ers stopped Herbert on fourth-and-3 from their own 8-yard line after Herbert’s pass slipped out of wide receiver Joshua Palmer’s hands.
Following a Robbie Gould field goal, the Chargers had one last opportunity to score with 53 seconds left before Herbert’s pass was intercepted by safety Talanoa Hufanga who sealed the win for San Francisco.
The 49ers will play in primetime again next week, as they head to Mexico City to take on NFC West foe, the Arizona Cardinals, on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
PFWA Pool Reporter Matt Barrows Interview with NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson
Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers Sunday, November 13, 2022
Question: “I assume the call to eject San Francisco linebacker Dre Greenlaw came from New York?”
Anderson: “That is correct. What the officials had was a flag for a player lowering his head and making forcible contact and Rule 19 allows us when a flag is thrown to examine the play and if we feel the action is flagrant then the rule allows us to disqualify the player and that’s what we determined. It was a flagrant act.”
Question: “What about the act made it flagrant?”
Anderson: “The timing, the manner in which the player had an opportunity to make other choices and to make a different decision. Those all go into factoring whether something is flagrant. Those are just some of the factors that are considered.”
Question: “On the play, the quarterback first seems to be tackled by a linebacker then a safety and he’s being forced into the tackler (Greenlaw). Does that mitigate it in anyway?”
Anderson: “The runner was a downed runner. He was already down by contact. That certainly plays into taking a look at the actions taken by the defender. If he had other choices in terms of his actions, we felt like the actions he took were flagrant in nature and that was the reason for disqualification.”
Question: “So you’re saying that the runner was already going down and being tackled when the third player, Dre Greenlaw, made contact?”
Anderson: “Yes, he (Justin Herbert) was down. Whenever the player (Greenlaw) lowered his head and made forcible contact, the runner was already down on the ground. His knee was already down and he was tackled.”
Question: “Does the fact that a quarterback involved having any bearing on it? If it was a running back, do you make the same judgement in New York?”
Anderson: “Yes, the same rule applies both for the officials on the field and for the decisions we’re looking for in New York in terms of determining in whether the actions are flagrant or not. It would have been the same if it had been any other ballcarrier. Another thing is, whether fouls are called or not, fouls have subsequent action or not on game day, players are always subject to additional discipline during the week and all personal fouls are reviewed by the league each and every week and additional discipline is always possible up to and including suspension.”
Photo by 49ers/Twitter