A night started with surgical precision by Justin Herbert ended in a way familiar to the Chargers.
AM * A * S * H unit.
At the start of a prime-time road match against the San Francisco 49ers, the Chargers were missing their two early attacking tackles and their two best receivers. However, they held out for most of the game before relinquishing the lead in the fourth quarter and losing, 22-16.
Herbert, who briefly left the match at halftime to be evaluated for a concussion, was concise in his performance assessment as he grabbed the sides of the post-match lectern.
“We just didn’t execute,” he said, clenching his jaw.
That wasn’t the case in the opening unit, when Herbert was ruthlessly efficient in carving the San Francisco defense in a seven-game 75-yard march that was crowned with a 32-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Carter.
Herbert threw 161 yards in the first two quarters and headed into the locker room with a prodigious passing score of 105.5.
The real concern was a helmet-to-helmet blow he absorbed towards halftime, which resulted in San Francisco linebacker Dre Greenlaw being sent off.
“I was climbing, I was hit and the next play they told me I had to go out,” said Herbert, who was examined in the concussion tent on the sidelines.
“I felt normal after the hit.”
There was no such efficiency in the second half when the Chargers failed to generate much attack. They had 35 yards passed after half-time.
In fact, considering the young and inexperienced cast of Chargers on the pitch, the team held up very well against one of the hottest teams in the NFC.
Former New Orleans manager Sean Payton, for example, thinks the 49ers will eventually win the NFC, especially with the addition of running back Christian McCaffrey. But even with Deebo Samuel returning on Sunday night, and after a week off to bounce back, San Francisco didn’t take its first lead until McCaffrey’s two-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
At that point, the attack of the Chargers ran on the fumes and could not get out of the shadow of their end zone.
Visitors did not find Pyrrhic victory in this one.
“We have guys who have to come forward,” said running back Austin Ekeler. “I don’t care who’s out there. If you are on the pitch, you get paid to play. You have to take a step forward “.
The Chargers were left out in the second half, a disturbing reality that was heading for the week 11 home game on Sunday night against Kansas City.