The San Francisco 49ers (7-7) have been eliminated from playoff contention. The San Diego Chargers (8-6) need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The 49ers’ season has been plagued by turmoil between their head coach and general manager, as well as poor quarterback performance. While Jim Harbaugh’s next job is still unknown, there’s no doubt he won’t be on the San Francisco sideline next season.
The Chargers, on the other hand, are looking to make the playoffs for the second straight season. While they need a lot of help from other teams to work their way in, it all starts with a road win on Saturday.
San Diego Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers
Saturday, 8:25 p.m. Eastern
Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.
49ers by 1
Chargers 34, 49ers 7 on Dec. 16, 2012, in San Diego
Scouting San Diego
The San Diego Chargers have been to the playoffs once since 2009 — and that was last season. This season, they’re hoping to find a way to sneak into a wildcard spot — but that dream can easily be crushed with a loss Saturday. In addition to needing a win, they need a lot of help from other teams to make the postseason.
Philip Rivers is passing for an average of 250 yards per game. This is supported by only 82.6 total rushing yards per game. This could hurt the team, as San Francisco’s defense is third in the league with giving up only 206 passing yards per game, and 25th in the league with 101.1 rushing yards allowed per game.
San Diego’s rushing game is led by rookie Branden Oliver, who has 458 yards and two touchdowns in his first season. Ryan Mathews, in his fifth season, has added 330 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Scouting San Francisco
Colin Kaepernick’s career has hit a rough patch this season. He’s thrown for a career high 10 interceptions and a career low 60.5 completion percentage as a starter. He has passed for 16 touchdowns, which is five fewer than last season, and 3,051 yards this season, 146 fewer than last year.
Frank Gore has helped ease some of the offensive pressure, with 804 yards and three touchdowns this season. However, he is questionable for Saturday’s game with a concussion.
Whether Gore is in or not, the 49ers will be going up against a Chargers defense that gives up an average of 108.6 rushing yards per game and 228.2 passing yards per game.
San Diego 35, San Francisco 20
Given all that San Diego has to play for, and all of the problems San Francisco is facing, it’s hard to see the 49ers winning this game.
While neither team is strong on defense, San Francisco’s offense is definitely struggling. If Gore cannot go, they will stand little chance of staying in this game.
The Chargers will have to look to the rushing game, but the Oliver-Mathews duo should be strong enough to expose the 49ers weaknesses.