View images from the 49ers preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers.
The San Francisco 49ers wrap up the 2016 preseason on the road Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers.
It's an important final audition for many on the roster. San Francisco will have to trim its roster down to 53 players by 1 p.m. PT on Saturday.
The biggest news of the night concerns the quarterback position. Colin Kaepernick will start the game, according to NFL Network's Alex Flanagan. Several veterans on the 49ers, including quarterback Blaine Gabbert, will not play in the preseason finale.
Two hours prior to kickoff, the 49ers announced the following players will not be on the field:
DL Arik Armstead, DL Glenn Dorsey, LB Nick Bellore, CB Keith Reaser, RB Pierre Garçon, WR Bryce Treggs, LT Joe Staley, OL John Theus and Gabbert.
Keep it locked here throughout the night for quarterly updates, key observations and more.
Kaepernick and the 49ers took the ball first to start the game. The signal-caller hit Bruce Miller for a 9-yard gain on first down. Joshua Garnett and Andrew Tiller started at left guard and right guard, respectively. Mike Davis opened at running back. Dres Anderson and rookie Aaron Burbridge began the game at wide receiver.
Kaepernick rushed for 10 around the right edige to pick up a first down. He later found Burbridge for a gain of 10.
Kaepernick stayed hot, completing his first four throws on the drive before an incompletion to Miller on throw No. 5. On his sixth throw, Kaepernick converted a 3rd-and-3 with a 10-yard reception to recently acquired wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. On the next third-down, Kaepernick completed a 14-yard pass to Anderson, who took a big hit from a Chargers safety at San Diego's 1-yard line.
Two plays later, DuJuan Harris scored to give the 49ers an early score. With all eyes on him, Kaepernick completed 6 of 8 passes for 58 yards with two rushes for 30 yards on the ground.
The 49ers attempted a 2-point conversion, but Harris was tackled in the backfield. San Francisco took an early 6-0 lead with 6:49 left in the first quarter.
San Francisco rested all 11 starters for San Diego's first offensive drive. It's notable that Dontae Johnson and rookie Rashard Robinson lined up at cornerback. Michael Wilhoite and Shayne Skov also took the field first at inside linebacker.
San Diego attempted to convert a 4th-and-1 from their own 31-yard line, but backup quarterback Kellen Clemens overthrew wide receiver Deandre Reaves down the left sideline and the Chargers turned the ball over on downs.
On Kaepernick's second possession, a penalty on first down forced an eventual punt. Kaepernick was pressured on a third-down incompletion that was intended for undrafted rookie receiver Devon Cajuste.
With the ball back, Clemens and the Chargers picked up a big gain of 18 on a quick slant to wideout Isaiah Burse. San Diego drove down to San Francisco's 39-yard line and converted a 4th-and-2 on a Clemens-to-Burse connection for a gain of 5.
San Diego took advantage of multiple third-down conversions and a few defensive penalties on the 49ers to take the lead with a 2-yard Chris Swain touchdown run.
The 18-play, 76-yard scoring drive took 9:51 off the clock and gave the home team a 7-6 lead with 5:29 left in the second quarter.
Kaepernick remained in the game for San Francisco's third possession. He completed another throw to Anderson for a gain of 8 on a 3rd-and-2.
The 49ers converted a 4th-and-inches at the 50-yard line thanks to a 15-yard run around the right edge by Harris. It appeared as though Harris was going to be tackled for a loss, but No. 32 kept his feet moving and was able to dart sideways around the perimeter to keep Kaepernick and the offense back in business.
Kaepernick later scrambled on 3rd-and-3 and dove while falling out of bounds to pick up another first down with his legs. Following two more incompletions, the 49ers ended the half with a 32-yard Phil Dawson field goal.
Kaepernick finished the first half 11 of 18 passing for 103 yards. He also led the 49ers in rushing with 38 yards on four carries. Miller caught three passes for 19 yards in his most extensive playing time of the preseason. Defensively, Wilhoite and L.J. McCray led the defense with five tackles each.
Dawson's 32-yard make capped a 15-play, 61-yard scoring drive to give the 49ers a 9-7 lead at the half.Third Quarter
San Diego began the second half with the ball. The home team made a change at quarterback. Undrafted rookie Mike Bercovici entered the game for Clemens. Chargers running back Kenneth Farrow ripped off a gain of 44 around the left edge to put San Diego deep inside of San Francsico territory.
McCray save a touchdown-saving tackle by bringing down the ball carrier out of bounds from behind. Farrow quickly capped off the drive with a 6-yard scoring drive.
San Diego regained its lead, 14-9, with 13:02 left to play in the third quarter.
Rookie Jeff Driskel replaced Kaepernick for San Francisco's opening drive of the second half.
The sixth-round pick rushed for a gain of 13, but he was intercepted shortly after by Adrian McDonald on a pass intended for tight end Blake Bell. Robinson intercepted Bercovici to give the ball right back to the 49ers. But after a 25-yard Mike Davis run appeared to get the 49ers offense in a good position to get more points, Driskel was once again intercepted. This time an errant pass was picked off by Trevor Williams.* *The second Driskel interception led to points for the home team. Bercovici found an open Burse on an inside slant, which the receiver took the rest of the way for a 17-yard touchdown catch.
San Diego added to its lead, now up 21-9 with 6:11 left in the third quarter.Both teams swapped punts. It's worth noting that Marcus Rush picked up his team-leading fifth sack of the preseason with a devastating hit on Bercovici to force a punt.
Christian Ponder replaced Driskel at quarterback for the 49ers on San Francisco's ensuing possession.Fourth QuarterChip Kelly kept his offense on the field for a 4th-and-1. Kelvin Taylor moved the chains with a short run. On the next play, Ponder launched a deep seam route down the right hashmarks to Blake Bell, who appeared to make an impressive touchdown catch. Bell, however, was flagged for offensive pass interference. The referees called the tight end for pushing off on a Chargers defender.
Because of the penalty, the 49ers were unable to convert a 3rd-and-16. Dawson proceeded to miss a 47-yard field goal attempt wide left with 13:41 left in the game.San Francisco's defense put together an impressive three-play stretch to force another Chargers punt. Defensive lineman B.J. McBryde recorded a tackle for loss. Nose tackle Garrison Smith followed it up with a sack on Bercovici. Finally, the drive ended with rookie Ronald Blair III tackling Chargers running back Gus Johnson for a loss.
With the ball back and trailing by 12, the 49ers picked up a big gain when Taylor rushed for 15 to put San Francisco's offense at San Diego's 27-yard line. Ponder got the 49ers back in the end zone with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
The Ponder-led, 9-play, 54-yard scoring drive gave San Francisco its first points of the second half and made it a 21-16 lead for San Diego with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter.Rush. Again.
The 49ers pass-rusher sacked Bercovici and forced a fumble that was quickly scooped up by undrafted rookie defensive lineman Demetrius Cherry.San Francisco took the lead with Ponder's second touchdown run of the night. The 5-yard rush was followed by a 2-point conversion from Taylor to give the 49ers a 24-21 lead.Rush. Again. Seriously.
After picking up his sixth sack of the preseason, the outside linebacker intercepted Bercovici on a pass that was initially deflected by Robinson. The 49ers sideilne went wild.
What a moment.
San Francisco is now deep in San Diego territory with an opportunity to milk the clock and kick another field goal or add one more touchdown.
And the onslaught continued. Taylor scored on a 10-yard run. Dawson made the extra point and the 49ers put together 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Final score: 49ers 31 - Chargers 21
Stay tuned for more postgame coverage.