Observation Deck: San Diego Chargers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- In the dress rehearsal for the regular season, the San Diego Chargers played solid against one of the powerhouses of the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers, in a 21-7 loss Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium.

San Diego’s starters played into the second quarter and led 7-3 before they were taken out on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the Chargers had their best effort of the preseason, with the first unit limiting San Francisco’s offense to 69 total yards on four drives.

Here are some other thoughts on the Chargers third exhibition game of the year:

  • Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget was a one-man wrecking crew, finishing with four tackles (two tackles for a loss), a strip sack and forced fumble, two quarterback hurries and a pass deflection in just more than a quarter of work against one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. One of the more underrated defensive linemen in the league, Liuget’s performance should open some more eyes.

  • Defensively, the Chargers looked much better against the run. Coming into the contest, San Diego had given up an average of 5.58 yards per carry, worst in the NFL. But San Diego’s defensive starters held San Francisco’s potent running attack to just 22 rushing yards on four drives. The Chargers tackled and pursued the ball carrier more consistently than in previous exhibition games.

  • Quarterback Philip Rivers appears ready for the regular season. He finished 9-of-10 for 85 yards and a touchdown, posting a 135.4 passer rating. Rivers is 15-of-18 for 166 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in exhibition play. Rivers has not been sacked, and posted a 123.6 passer rating during the preseason. It would be surprising if Rivers plays against Arizona next week in the final preseason game.

  • Cornerback Jason Verrett and outside linebacker Dwight Freeney played for the first time during the preseason. Verrett entered the game at cornerback in passing situations, with starting left cornerback Brandon Flowers sliding to slot defender. Verrett was not tested on the outside, and appeared to come away from the contest without suffering any setbacks from his surgically repaired shoulder. Freeney, playing for the first time since suffering a torn quad, had a nice tackle for a loss on running back LaMichael James.

  • The Chargers did not escape the game without injuries. Defensive tackle Kwame Geathers had to be carted off the field after suffering a left knee injury in the first half. Fellow defensive lineman Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe also was carted off the field in the second half with a knee injury. Center Nick Hardwick suffered a neck injury, and was replaced by Rich Ohrnberger. Geathers' injury is particularly concerning for the Chargers, already thin at defensive line because of injuries to Sean Lissemore and Lawrence Guy.

  • Inside linebacker Kavell Conner had some big hits playing in place of Manti Te'o, who sat out due to a foot injury. Conner finished with a combined seven tackles, leading the Chargers.