What it means: The 49ers fell to 5-9, meaning they will finish with a losing record after going 8-8 last season. Taking a step backward makes it tougher for coach Mike Singletary to justify keeping his job. Beating the Chargers in San Diego was a long shot, however, and the team remains in the NFC West race. The 49ers can claim a share of first place by beating St. Louis in Week 16 if Seattle loses its next two (at home against Atlanta, at Tampa Bay) and Kansas City beats the Rams.
What I liked: The temperature at kickoff was 56 degrees, ideal for football.
What I didn't like: This game, like the 49ers' season, was all about what could have been -- but was not. Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks could have picked off Philip Rivers. He dropped the ball. Defensive end Justin Smith could have helped the 49ers' weather Rivers. He suffered a first-half disqualification. Alex Smith could have scored an early rushing touchdown. Replay said otherwise. Tight end Delanie Walker could have held onto the ball. He dropped it. Ted Ginn Jr. could have had an 85-yard kickoff return for a score. A facemask penalty nullified it.
Tomorrow's Talker: More of the same. Should coach Mike Singletary keep his job? What about Alex Smith?
Critical Call: Singletary went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with San Diego leading 7-0 right after officials overturned Smith's apparent touchdown run. The 49ers failed to score. The risk seemed worth it because the 49ers were faring pretty well on the ground and they weren't going to win the game with field goals. Earlier in the drive, Singletary took a field goal off the scoreboard by accepting a penalty.
Trending: The 49ers' defense continues to give up big plays. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' receivers took their turn two weeks ago. Rivers had his way Thursday night. He found Vincent Jackson for three scoring receptions, including a 58-yarder. Rivers averaged 10.9 yards per pass attempt.
Offense shut down: The 49ers managed only 192 yards, barely more than the season-low 189 yards they gained during a 21-0 defeat to Tampa Bay. Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis caught one pass, a late grab for 4 yards, after catching at least one scoring pass in five consecutive Alex Smith starts.
What's next: The 49ers visit St. Louis in Week 16.