Jim Harbaugh had three goals for his football team this preseason.
No. 1: Avoid injuries.
No. 2: Win games.
No. 3: Improve.
The 49ers seemed to accomplish all three as they topped their host San Diego Chargers, 41-6, on Thursday night, pushing their exhibition record to 3-1 entering a Sept. 8 opener against the Green Bay Packers at Candlestick Park.
"I loved watching our team," Harbaugh said.
Kaepernick started the game and was 3-of-4 with 64 yards through the air. His final pass, a side-armed sling to
PHOTOS: 49ERS AT CHARGERS
The 49ers’ opening drive – seven plays for 77 yards and the score – was the quarterback’s last. He traded his helmet for a cap, his cleats for a pair of sneakers.
“He looked sharp,” Jim Harbaugh said on the field at halftime.
Even fewer San Francisco defensive starters played Thursday. Ten of the team’s expected 11, including rookie free safety
The team’s second-string defenders took advantage of their playing time. The front seven, in particular, gave Chargers quarterback Charlie Whitehurst all kinds of trouble:
But no defender made a bigger splash than
The second-year outside linebacker Johnson rush through to Whitehurst on back-to-back plays in the second quarter: on the first, he earned a sack of Whitehurst; on the second, Whitehurst saw Johnson coming and, as a result of the pressure, threw an interception to inside linebacker
The latter result gave the 49ers offense possession at the Chargers’ 11-yard line. Four plays later, McCoy connected with
Lining up at right outside linebacker on the following drive, Johnson charged from Whitehurst’s blindside, earning his second sack of the game. Johnson appeared to injure his left arm later on but did return.
“I love the guys that are playing, competing their hearts out,” Harbaugh said at halftime. “Cam Johnson has made a couple of incredible plays.
"Cam Johnson played his heart out," Harbaugh added postgame.
Another linebacker helped create a turnover late in the third quarter:
Dawson finished the preseason 9-of-11 on three-point tries.
McCoy started the third quarter but was replaced by
The star of the game, Johnson, wasn’t done when he returned from the sideline. The 2012 seventh-round draft pick blocked the Chargers punt on San Diego’s last play of the third quarter. Johnson covered the ball in the end zone for the 49ers’ third touchdown.
"It was just a punt rush," Johnson said on the field postgame. "I just wanted to go get it... I was actually kind of exhausted, but I was happy to make a play.
"I have been working hard all offsason it's fianlyl good to see the results."
The team’s fourth touchdown may have provided the best highlight of the game: With less than 10 minutes remaining, reserve wide receiver
Daniels also connected with fellow rookie