The SF 49ers are coming to Qualcomm this Thursday and it looks like they’re bringing the Bay Area’s cold weather down with them. After this weekend’s weather, that’s one more reason to beat them!
This game is a MUST WIN for both teams. I would love to see my Chargers end the 49ers’ hunt for their playoffs run and here are nine steps in doing so:
Step 1: Stop Vernon Davis: Davis is the most athletic person on the Niners team. Since Gore’s season ending injury, Davis has been the biggest threat. Count on Niners offense to go through Davis. In last week’s demolition against the Seahawks, Davis caught five passes for a total of 70 yards and a 42-yard touchdown.
Step 2: Lookout For Brian Westbrook: Another key player that has emerged since Gore’s season ending injury is Westbrook. He has been filling in quite well for the Niners. In Sunday’s triumph, Westbrook delivered with nine carries for 23 yards and caught six passes for 87 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown. Westbrook is, however, splitting time with Anthony Dixon. Why Singletary waited until Gore to be out of the picture to utilize Westbrook is something only the one-track minded Singletary can answer.
Step 3: Darren Sproles v Takeo Spikes/Patrick Willis: Cason got his first chance to return punts this past Sunday and he showed that he has what it takes. However, Spikes is no match for Mighty Mites’ speed. The only person who can possibly stop Sproles in his tracks is Willis. Rumors are brewing that the two above-mentioned players will not play on Thursday due to the fact that they both wore bulky casts at practice. Regardless, expect to see them on the field on Thursday. Willis played with a cast during his junior season at Ole Miss. He’s played the second half of his rookie season with a broken bone. Do not underestimate Spikes, he will catch a ball with one hand if and when needed. These two ‘broken’ athletes put on the field together will make one complete player. They’re not considered two of the leagues better inside linebackers for nothing. Rookie NaVorro Boman and Keaton Kristick are listed as back ups for both players on 49ers’ depth chart.
Step 4: Niners Defense Are Deceptively Better Than They Appear: They’re no Chargers Defense but despite the obvious, Niners Defense had four interceptions and one fumble recovery in Sunday’s game; and they have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in the last 19 games. However, Niners Defense has a weak spot: their cornerbacks are their weakest link. Phillip Rivers should not have any problem throwing against the Niners soft zone.
Step 5: Alex Smith Is Coming Off The Best Game Of His Career: After the Niners loss to Green Bay, Singletary made the boldest decision and started Alex Smith the following week. Smith was booed on Sunday’s game and that might have been what motivated him to throw 255 yards and three touchdowns leading the Niners past division rival Seahawks. So, having had the best game of his career and his starting job on the line, this other Smith will undoubtedly open it up for the Niners. Singletary has been playing musical chairs with Quarterbacks this season: Alex Smith, David Carr, Troy “The Other Smith” Smith, back to Alex Smith again. We shall see on Thursday if he changes his mind and decides to play The Other Smith who grew up in the San Diego area.
Step 6: Vincent Jackson Is A Distraction To Opponent’s Defense: In Sunday’s beat down of the Chiefs, Jackson’s presence to the Chiefs’ defense was obviously distracting. After his first catch of the season, he commanded so much attention from the defense that it opened up everything else, like the running game. As of today, Jackson is a go for this Thursday’s game and he will be sure to command that same attention and respect he’s been lacking from the fans since his holdout drama.
Step 7: Chargers Defense Needs To Keep Shining: After taking a Sunday off against the Raiders, Chargers #1 ranked Defense showed up with a vengeance against the Chiefs and they showed why they’re ranked #1 by crushing them shamelessly. Now if they can keep the momentum until Thursday and play the way they did on Sunday, Chargers will stop Niners’ hunt for that first place spot on NFC West.
Step 8: No Turnovers, No Blocked Punts, No Special Team Mistakes: Niners will capitalize on any and every mistake that Chargers commit. Just like the Raiders did – thus outscoring the Chargers very early in the game. Chargers play strong after a home loss and when their backs are against the wall. They have to keep that mentality this Thursday. Chargers need to play aggressively and mistake free.
Step 9: Stay Focus And Balanced: Once again, Chargers can not take for granted how well and fiercely they played on Sunday. Despite the short week, they need to stay focused and keep their eyes on the prize – PLAYOFFS! Niners have their eyes on the same thing and if the Chargers are not careful – this could be a trap game. Singletary is fighting for his job and so is Alex Smith. This game is just as important to them as it is to the Chargers, if not more. So needless to say, they’re going to come out swinging.
I have faith in the Chargers and I do believe that after their first December loss since 2005, and coming out of Sunday’s best beat down ever – Chargers will come out of this game with a W.