Sunday night is almost here, and it’s going to be a tough one – and yet, there are certain keys to a Chargers victory against the 49ers. Prime time brings a strong matchup against two of the best playmakers in the NFL, along with a powerful defense with Nick Bosa and Fred Warner on the other side. Just based on one matchup alone – this game could be a blow out; the Chargers run defense against the 49ers rushing attack (including Deebo). But, as we all know, in the world of sports – anything is possible.
Furthermore, upon closer inspection, as long as the Chargers are able to accomplish a few key factors, a win is by no means impossible.
And while the 49ers (obviously) are not in the Chargers’ division – this game serves as crucial as a matchup as ever. Not only to remain relevant in the uber-competitive AFC, but also to serve as a statement to the rest of the league. That even with a bevy of key injuries, the Bolts are still a worthy competitor – and even a team to watch for the playoffs. It’d be a HUGE victory in front of the entire nation – here’s how I think the Chargers can pull it off:
Limit Deebo & CMC
I don’t care how much you play for the run, stacking the box, or double-team Deebo; that’s fine, you can live with someone else beating you. But as per usual, goal number one is to keep the stars from being stars. The Chargers were able to beat the Raiders in Week 1 even with Davante Adams’ 100+ yards, but that’s also because it was against… the Raiders. With all due respect, it’s safe to say the 49ers are a MUCH better team this year.
It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to know that SF loves the screen game, so the goal should be not to try so hard to pressure Jimmy G – he’ll make the mistakes on his own. (Sorry, Jimmy). Key in on the key guys, and don’t let them out of your sight. I’m talking to you, Derwin, Murray, and Tranquil.
Make Jimmy G Beat You
Control the Game
The dink & dunk game of short, quick passes worked last week against the Falcons, and while it’s certainly not going to put up an enormous amount of points – what it will do, is keep the ball in Herbert’s hands. Thus, the ball is out of San Francisco’s dangerous offenses’ hands. As defensive as it is – it’s a crucial point of attack whenever you find yourself facing a strong offense.
What do you do when a child won’t stop playing with an annongly loud toy? You simply take the toy away. When it comes down to the Chargers defense, there’s no guarantee you can stop San Francisco’s high-powered offense – but there is a chance that Herbert and Ekeler can hold the ball long enough to prevent them from firing off. If Ekeler can get a solid 3-5 yards per carry – the Chargers are in good shape for a HUGE victory.
Take Some Shots
Let me be perfectly clear, I’m not saying to throw hail mary’s every other down. No, to put it simply, all the Chargers need to do is take a chance every now and then. As noted throughout the week by ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky, Justin Herbert has been SO limited (constrained, really) on the long ball opportunities, that he’s been taking the chances, even when they’re not there.
And to be honest, that’s not even a bad call! As long as the Chargers are taking them! Hell, it wouldn’t hurt every other first down or so to try to take a chance. Even if you don’t win any of them, it still keeps this threat alive, and opens up the offense for short game. And who knows, when you have number 10 slinging it – chances are, you will win some – no matter who your receivers are…
Win in the Trenches
Now, this one is obvious – it’s necessary in every game you play; but this Sunday night, it’s as crucial as ever. Why? Not only are the Chargers down Slater AND Pipkins, but they’re also facing Bosa The opposing team has two of the best playmakers in the NFL. Secondly, the Chargers will need to keep the ball in their hands – and how do you do that? Run the ball, and chew up the clock. And as we all know, that starts with the big men up front.
Herbert is going to need time to throw, especially when he’s working with a decimated receiving corps. I don’t care which cornerback it is, if you give a Quarterback enough time, he’ll find someone. And, even with all of the injuries, surprisingly, the Chargers O-line has NOT been the problem. Will they have enough to keep the Niners defense at bay? It’ll be a test, alright.
Based on talent and strengths/weaknesses alone, this proves to be a tough match for the 5-3 Chargers. And yet, it’s also not impossible. Not easy, but doable. To put it simply, if Ekeler gets more than 20 carries, or Herbert throws for over 300 – you can almost indicate a victory for the Bolts. Conversely, if Deebo and McCaffery are held to under 2 TD’s each, the Chargers will have a fighting chance.
If it’s any bode of confidence, the Chargers do average more points on the board than the 49ers, as well as yards. However, San Fransico has proven to be quite stingy with their run defense, allowing only 88 yards per game. So maybe that points towards Ekeler the short game receiving weapon as the hero. Or maybe the Chargers place their trust on the right arm of Justin Herbert and let him loose. Who knows how it’ll get done, or if it’ll get done – but stranger things have happened…