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Chargers force 6 turnovers to beat Smith, Niners 16-13

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/recap?gid=20070830024" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>

    By Bernie Wilson

    <img src="http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/sp/getty/26/fullj.getty-76072255sd028_san_francisco.jpg" title="SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 30: Defensive end Jacques Cesaire #74 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates after recovering a fumble against the San Francisco 49ers in a preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium August 30, 2007 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)" alt="SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 30: Defensive end Jacques Cesaire #74 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates after recovering a fumble against the San Francisco 49ers in a preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium August 30, 2007 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)" align="left" height="207" width="155" />SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Maybe Alex Smith should have stayed on the sideline, too.

    On a night of faux football that was woefully lacking in star power, Smith punctuated his homecoming with two turnovers. That helped the San Diego Chargers beat the sloppy San Francisco 49ers 16-13 in an exhibition finale Thursday night.

    Niners third-stringer Shaun Hill threw three interceptions and wide receiver Brandon Williams fumbled. San Diego scored 13 points off turnovers.

    Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates sat out so that new coach Norv Turner, the 49ers' offensive coordinator last year, could look at other players. Reigning NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson didn't take a snap in the exhibition season to avoid the risk of injury.

    Rivers suited up and called in plays from the sideline, a task usually done by third-stringer Charlie Whitehurst. Gates also wore his uniform, but L.T. chose to wear a sweat suit and a cap turned backward.

    "It keeps you really involved in getting to call them in," Rivers said. "Charlie calls in the plays normally in the games. So getting to call them in, I still can get some work like I'm in the huddle. It's a lot of fun being right there in the action."

    NFC rushing champion Frank Gore didn't play, either, despite lobbying coach Mike Nolan for a few snaps. Gore's broken hand is pretty much healed, but Nolan preferred to treat him the same way the Chargers treat Tomlinson in the exhibition season.

    After rosters are reduced to 53 by Saturday, the Chargers (3-1) will begin the defense of their AFC West title on Sept. 9 at home against Chicago. The 49ers (1-3) get a Monday night date with Arizona at home on Sept. 10.

    San Diego went an NFL-best 14-2 last year before collapsing against New England in its playoff opener.

    "We feel like we're ready," defensive end Luis Castillo said.

    Billy Volek started for the Chargers and was relieved by Whitehurst with more than nine minutes left in the second quarter. The Niners went straight from Smith to Hill, bypassing backup Trent Dilfer.

    San Francisco was coming off a loss at Chicago in which the first-team offense managed just one first down in the first half, when its only scoring drive was a 6-yarder after a turnover.

    Smith, who was a teammate of Reggie Bush at nearby Helix High, played four series and had turnovers on his last two. The first pick overall in the 2005 draft, he was intercepted by Clinton Hart late in the first quarter, then was sacked by Tim Dobbins and fumbled, with Jacques Cesaire recovering. Those turnovers set up field goals by Nate Kaeding, who finished with three.

    "It's something I'll learn from, obviously," said Smith, who was 3-of-8 for 23 yards. "I definitely feel comfortable. We weren't showing a whole lot. But there are some things to take from this."

    Nolan liked the 49ers' defensive effort. "It would have been nice to see more from the offense," he said.

    Bryant Young, a 14-year veteran and the sole remaining link to the 49ers' last championship team, got his first action of the exhibition season after sitting out the first three games and most practices with a sore back.

    Third-string Chargers cornerback Paul Oliver intercepted Hill to set up Whitehurst's 40-yard touchdown pass to first-round draft pick Craig Davis.

    Second-round pick Eric Weddle had the fourth interception, running his pickoff string at Qualcomm Stadium to four straight games. Weddle had an interception in the exhibition opener against Seattle. While at Utah, Weddle had four interceptions in two games against San Diego State at Qualcomm Stadium. He had three last year, returning two for touchdowns.

    Hill threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zachary Hilton and Joe Nedney kicked two field goals.

    Niners tight end Vernon Davis was booed late in the first quarter when he mockingly did the spasmodic "Lights Out" dance, the signature move of Chargers outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, who had an NFL-high 17 sacks last year.
     

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