49ers vs Chargers : Live@ Point Spread: NFL Week 4 Odds, Prediction 49ers vs Chargers. NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger takes a closer look at the Week 4 matchu
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Rivers will likely target the Niners’ banged-up secondary a lot Sunday, putting pressure on both the fill-in options and the relatively absent 49ers pass rush to deliver.
C.J. Beathard vs. the Blitz
Also according to Pro Football Focus, both the Chargers’ losses this season have come when their defense blitzed less than the league average.
Beathard wasn’t effective against pressure last season, tossing for a passer rating of 66.0 when blitzed, compared to 83.9 when not facing pressure at all. This number improved as 2017 drew on, so the hope is Beathard’s full year within the league adds to the maturation and ability handling the extra rushing pressure from L.A.
Oh, and it’s a bonus the Chargers will be without their top edge rusher, Joey Bosa, who remains out with a foot injury.
A Banged-Up 49ers Rushing Attack
No. 1 running back Matt Breida, who is leading the league with an average of 8.6 yards per carry, suffered a hyper-extended knee in Week 3 but returned, is listed as questionable on San Francisco’s injury report. He was limited in practice on Wednesday and Friday during the week, fully participating on Thursday.
Shanahan indicated Breida would be a game-time decision, understanding it’s still early in the season and how Breida will be a major factor in the 49ers offense from this point onward.
To complicate the issue, No. 2 running back Alfred Morris (knee) is also listed as questionable. He didn’t practice on Wednesday and was limited on both Thursday and Friday. If both players are unable to go, which seems unlikely, the 49ers would be forced to rely heavily on special teams ace Raheem Mostert as the primary ball carrier.
One would guess both Breida and Morris are made available for the game but have the NFL’s equivalent to a “pitch count” — a limited number of carries for each, which puts more pressure on Beathard and the passing game.
When Do the 49ers Wide Receivers Show Up?
Tight end George Kittle leads the 49ers in both receptions (12) and receiving yards (191) on the season. That’s great for Kittle and that particular aspect of the game. But it doesn’t reflect well on the Niners’ wide receivers, who have yet to make a substantial impact in 2018.
Wide receivers Pierre Garçon and Trent Taylor each have seven receptions apiece, but neither has crested 100 yards on the season. Over three weeks and with Garoppolo mostly at the helm, this is concerning. Sure, in nearly two of those games, No. 1 wideout Marquise Goodwin was sidelined with a leg injury. But that doesn’t change the fact the Niners receiving corps hasn’t been much a factor on the young season.
The Chargers are minus cornerback Jason Verrett (Achilles) this season, although rookie safety Derwin James is a player worth keeping an eye on as the 49ers look to get their wide receivers involved more in Week 4.
Those Damned Yellow Flags
OK, so a number of the penalties accepted against the 49ers in Week 3 were pretty ludicrous. But that doesn’t change the fact the Niners were flagged a whopping 14 times for 147 yards in their loss to the Chiefs. San Francisco needed to play a near-perfect game on the road, and the context hasn’t changed much now in L.A.
Through three weeks, the 49ers are tied for fourth most penalties in the league with 26. Outside of the Buffalo Bills (28 penalties accepted), all the other teams with more than San Francisco have substantially better rosters than what the Niners will carry into the StubHub Center on Sunday.
Simply put, Shanahan and Co. can’t afford yet another penalty-ridden contest on the road against what appears to be, on paper, a vastly superior opponent.
Moderately improved discipline would vastly improve the Niners’ chances for pulling off an upset in Week 4. Those frustrating pre-snap penalties would negate putting added pressure on Beathard and his receiving targets if eliminated. And the 49ers’ suspect defense can ill-afford to gift the Chargers additional yardage on the other side of the ball.
It isn’t as if L.A. needs the help here.
The 49ers and Chargers kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sept. 30 from the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco’s 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners’ flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries