49ers Survive Clunky Start, Hold On to Win 22-16 Over Chargers

Nov 13, 2022, 11:00 PM | Updated: 11:03 pm

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after a touchdown by Christian McCaffrey ...

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 13: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after a touchdown by Christian McCaffrey #23 during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi's Stadium on November 13, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It wasn’t pretty, but the 49ers got it done in primetime.

The San Francisco 49ers advanced to 5-4 Sunday night, defeating quarterback Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers, 22-16.

From the first drive it felt like the Red & Gold had their work cut out for them, giving up a touchdown on the opening possession. Working in the pocket with ease, Herbert found a wide open DeAndre Carter for the 32-yard score to open the game, 7-0.

San Francisco is a resilient bunch though, firing back their own 14-play, 67 yard drive to start the game. The running backs were the catalyst for that, with carries by running back Christian McCaffrey getting the ball moving for the 49ers. After an explosive play to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk for 20 yards, San Francisco followed it up with runs to get them inside the 10-yard line.

The drive halted there, as CMC was stopped at the two-yard line, forcing the 49ers to take the three points. That was the theme for SF Sunday night, going 2 for 5 in redzone trips. Despite the struggles, head coach Kyle Shanahan was happy to see his team pull out a tough win at home.

“I was proud of our team today. I want to play better. I want to blow people out. I want to score every time we go, but those are the types of games that that team (Chargers) is really good at winning,” Shanahan stated postgame Sunday.

On top of the inconstant scoring were the miscues, including Aiyuk’s fumble after  an explosive catch-and-run in the second quarter. Chargers safety Derwin James made the play, launching his helmet at BA’s hands to jar the ball loose before a teammates recovered it. A costly turnover for the home side, setting up the visitors in lucrative field position. 

This time San Francisco stood their ground, holding the Chargers to only a field goal on the drive. 

San Francisco’s offense then started to stall, producing two consecutive three & outs to swing the momentum back to Los Angeles. The visitors capitalized, tacking on three more points to make the score 13-3 with half a quarter to go. 

Backs against the wall, the 49ers pridciued a nine-play, 75 yard drive on the next possession. marching down the field in almost five minutes, QB Jimmy Garoppolo found the endzone on a sneak to make the score 13-10 with less than two minutes to go in the half.

Then disaster struck the Red & Gold.

Hurrying down the field, Herbert and the Chargers had the ball at the 49ers’ 40-yard-line with under a minute in the half. Facing a third and six, the gunslinger scrambled for the first before linebacker Dre Greenlaw awkwardly hit Herbert with a helmet-to-helmet tackle. The officials reconvened and assessed San Francisco with a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness, and disqualified Greenlaw from the rest of the contest. 

The Chargers went on to score a field goal to close the half with a 16-10 lead.

No, I don’t think so,” Shanahan said regarding Greenlaw’s ejection. “It all kind of actually blew my mind. I understand the penalty…but I gotta learn what that [call] is.”

The ejection lit a spark in the 49ers, going on an 12-play, 67 yard drive to open the third quarter. The drive took almost nine minutes of time off the clock, but once again, only resulted in three points for the team.

Thankfully the 49ers defense came alive to save the day, producing another second half shutout to keep LA at bay. Herbert was held to under 200 yards of passing, producing one TD and one interception on the night. As a team, the Chargers only had four possessions in  the second half, a testament to defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans’ unit.

“I’ll probably describe him in one word as ‘poised’,” safety Talanoa Hufanga said about his coach. “The poise that he holds in the locker room, it just brings all these guys together. And it just builds our confidence so we can go out there and make plays.”

With a defense willing the team to victory, the offense stepped up when it mattered most. 

First finding the endzone after a 14-play, 87 yard drive to open the fourth quarter, shedding almost eight minutes off the clock. WR Jauan Jennings played a massive role, picking up vital third downs that kept the chains moving for San Francisco. He finished the night with four catches for 40 yards receiving.

But at the end of the day, it was McCaffrey getting all the glory, finding the endzone from two yards out to give the 49ers a three point lead, 19-16.

From there, the Red & Gold defense remained stout, forcing a three & out by the Chargers on the next possession. San Francisco couldn’t take advantage however, giving the ball right back to LA. Or so they thought.

49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky pinned the Chargers at their own one-yard-line, forcing them to drive the length of the field to score with two minutes to go in the game. Four plays later, the visitors turned it over on downs.

San Francisco couldn’t seal the victory with a touchdown inside the goalline though, halted at the two-yard line after three unsuccessful run attempts. Kicker Robbie Gould nailed the field goal try, giving the 49ers a six-point cushion.

With a minute to go, Herbert and the Chargers were out of ideas, lobbing a softball up for Hufanga to pick off. And that was all she wrote, a 22-16 victory for the Red & Gold.

The 49ers had 41 carries for 157 yards Sunday night, a season-high. That resulted in a 14-minute advantage in time of possession over the visitors, a key to the team’s victory. RB Elijah Mitchell was the most effective runner, taking 18 carries for 89 yards on the ground in his return to the field. 

“I’m excited for it,” Mitchell said regarding the tandem with McCaffrey. “We can be the best duo of backs in the league, in my opinion.”

Jimmy Garoppolo also had an efficient night, completing 19 of 28 passes for 240 yards, no TDs and no INTs.

It wasn’t a convincing win by any stretch of the imagination, but San Francisco got a big win heading into the Mexico City game next week.


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