6 takeaways from 49ers’ sloppy Week 10 win over Chargers

The 49ers are 5-4 after recovering from an extremely sloppy first half to defeat an undermanned Chargers team 22-16 on Sunday Night Football.

San Francisco turned around a 16-13 fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Chargers 22-16. While not the most significant of fourth-quarter fightbacks, the Niners’ win may help quell a narrative about their ability to come from behind in the second half.

But the 49ers have plenty to fix after a mistake-strewn game in which they never truly took advantage of their obvious superiority and had to lean on their defense to close out a game that was much nervier than it should have been.

This win may not taste overly sweet, but there were positives to take from a victory that moves the 49ers half a game back of the Seahawks in the NFC West.

It’s not just Christian McCaffrey’s backfield

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There may have been an element of riding the hot hand, but Elijah Mitchell’s 18-carry, 89-yard effort affirmed that Kyle Shanahan will share the load between him and the man who usurped him as the starting running back, Christian McCaffrey.

Mitchell ran with vision, burst and power in his first game since suffering a knee injury in Week 1, and he and McCaffrey look set to form a one-two punch that should complement each other very well.


Error-prone Aiyuk redeems himself late

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It was a difficult night for Brandon Aiyuk, who fumbled after an 18-yard reception on the 49ers’ second drive and dropped what would have been a touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter.

However, he atoned for those errors with a critical 24-yard reception on third down on the 49ers’ second touchdown drive that was capped by a Christian McCaffrey rush.

He made another key third down catch on the Niners’ penultimate drive as the 49ers killed clock and recorded his fourth successive game with at least 80 receiving yards. Aiyuk is enjoying an impressive third season, but the mistakes show where he still has room to grow.

Red-zone woes continue

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Struggles in the red zone have been a recurring theme for the Niners and they continued in Week 10, ensuring San Francisco was in a close fight to finish with the Chargers.

San Francisco outgained Los Angeles 387 yards to 238 but went just two for five in the red zone. The Chargers’ offense was ill-equipped to punish the 49ers for those failings but, if they are to contend to go deep into the NFC playoffs, the Niners must find a way to use their plethora of offensive talent more effectively in the congested area of the field.


Right side of offensive line still an issue

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The 49ers’ offensive line has performed better than expected in 2022, but its right side remains a work in progress.

Right tackle Mike McGlinchey produced another spotty performance defined in part by missed blocks and disappointing pass protection reps.

At right guard, the rotation continues between Spencer Burford and Daniel Brunskill, and Burford made mistakes of his own late in the game. He allowed Kenneth Murray to knife through to bring down McCaffrey for a three-yard loss on the 49ers and was then flagged for being illegally downfield on the next play, though the penalty was declined, as San Francisco’s penultimate drive stalled with a chance to ice the game.

Offensive linemen are cursed to predominantly having people focus on their bad plays, which are small in number compared to those where they hold up. However, the consistency on the right side of the line is not there at present and, given Garoppolo’s tendency to struggle against pressure, it will need to be when the games get more important.

Defensive line comes up huge

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Speaking of pressure, the 49ers’ defensive line brought plenty of it and was ultimately the difference as San Francisco shut out the Chargers in the second half.

Nick Bosa led the way, registering a sack and four quarterback hits and creating crucial push in the closing drives. Jordan Willis was outstanding in his 2022 debut, which he finished with a sack and two quarterback hits and Charles Omenihu had a sack, forced a fumble and affected the final throw from Justin Herbert that resulted in a game-clinching Talanoa Hufanga interception.

With Drake Jackson also showing further signs of promise, this game was yet another highlight on defensive line coach Kris Kocurek’s glowing resume.

DeMeco's stunning second half

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Given the level of injuries the Chargers were dealing with on the offensive side of the ball, it may be a little bit of a stretch to call this a defensive masterclass from coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

But for the second straight game the 49ers held their opponent scoreless in the second half, and they did so after losing linebacker Dre Greenlaw to a controversial ejection after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Justin Herbert. In those games, they have limited the Rams and Chargers to 95 yards combined.

Such a dominant performance appeared unlikely when the 49ers gave up a touchdown after two blown coverages on the opening drive, but their revival thereafter was a testament to their defensive talent and Ryans’ ability to adjust and slow teams down.

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire