49ers steamroll Chargers in preseason finale

The 49ers wrapped up the 2013 preseason 3-1 with Thursday’s 41-6 drubbing of the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.

The team arrives in San Francisco in the wee hours Friday; the roster gets trimmed to 53 men on Saturday, with invitations to the eight-man practice squad going out on Sunday.

Scoring

All three 49er quarterbacks threw touchdown passes. Colin Kaepernick connected with Quinton Patton — again — for a 43-yard score. Colt McCoy hit Anthony Dixon on a 5-yard swing route, and B.J. Daniels found Lavelle Hawkins for a 45-yarder and Chuck Jacobs for a 14-yarder.

Cam Johnson added six points after recovering a blocked punt in the endzone.

Phil Dawson connected on field goals from 47 and 40 yards while Nick Novak scored the Chargers only points on two field goals.

Highlight

Lavelle Hawkins tipped and caught a short pass from Daniels in the fourth, then took a huge hit before darting down the sideline for a 45-yard touchdown. Hawkins kept his helmet on, didn’t showboat, and drew no penalties as he did last game.

Good

Johnson had his best game as a pro recording six tackles, two sacks, two hits on the quarterback, a blocked punt, recovery and touchdown. The 2012 seventh-round pick earned himself a roster spot tonight.

The 49ers defense was outstanding throughout the game, allowing just 219 yards of total offense while forcing three interceptions, six pass deflections, and notching four sacks.

For the third straight game Daniels was excellent at the helm, completing 5 of 9 passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed six times for 54 yards and very much looked like he’ll overtake McCoy at some point this season. No way Daniels gets cut. None.

Hawkins led the team with four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown, and just may have earned himself a job. He’s emotional, but a home run hitter nonetheless.

Worth noting

Undrafted rookie Kevin McDermott did all of the long snapping tonight in his final audition for Brian Jennings’ job and may very well have taken it.

Inside linebacker Nate Stupar had another solid game recording nine tackles and a pass deflection. No sign of where he lands on Saturday.

Second-year safety Michael Thomas delivered some hard hits and blanket coverage on his way to four tackles including three solo takedowns. Though competing at a crowded position, Thomas moved ahead of Bubba Ventrone and Trenton Robinson on this writer’s depth chart.

Perrish Cox returned two punts for 21 yards and is clearly the 49ers’ best option there.

Seneca Wallace left the team before they headed to San Diego yesterday, telling head coach Jim Harbaugh he wanted to retire. Regarding their conversation Harbaugh told the media post-game:

“I don’t talk people out of that. I’ve never seen it done on game day, but I wish him well.”

Not so good

The backup offensive line struggled mighty, constantly collapsing and forcing McCoy and Daniels out of the pocket on nearly every snap.

Tackles Kenny Wiggins and Patrick Omameh were beat at the corners several times, and only guard Wayne Tribue looks worthy of a practice squad spot.

The 49ers should be combing the waiver wire for additional depth.

Despite the praise from Harbaugh, nose tackle Glenn Dorsey hasn’t done much to warrant a $3 million salary as a backup rotational defensive lineman. Ian Williams and Mike Purcell have both produced better at the interior position than Dorsey on gameday.

Austin Collie dropped a deep ball he’s caught numerous times with the Colts. He’s not making the roster.

Injuries

Adam Snyder headed to the locker room for X-rays on his left hand (results unknown), LaMichael James had his knee wrapped in ice and did not return to the sideline for the second half, and Dorsey hurt his right forearm which was also being iced.

Closing thoughts

The 49ers got answers to their key questions this preseason: The quarterback rotation behind Kaepernick is established,  the depth at wide receiver is clear, and the tight ends and backs are solid.

The starting offensive line is one of the best in the league. The backups aren’t.

First-round pick Eric Reid will be the starting free safety. Wright sat out with the first unit, yet even the 49ers’ second and third string defenders could be starters on other teams.

The special teams units have definitely improved in all aspects and the 49ers look ready to carry their preseason success into Week One.


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