Week 16 – San Diego @ San Francisco: when losing is (painful) winning?

I like the Chargers. They’re my second team and they’re battling for the playoffs. Meanwhile the 49ers have been doing their best Washington Redskins impersonation after another week self-destructing off the field. It’s an open fact that head coach Jim Harbaugh will either be sacked or traded, and after last week’s loss to the Seahawks (where the beat up Niners played their best game in two months) we’re eliminated from this year’s postseason.

So who cares, right? We’re not playing for anything. So I’m happy to write this: I don’t want us to win!

I want us to lose and move further up the draft, closer to getting a legitimate #1 wide receiver who can actually get past press coverage. Or a DE that we’ll need after Ray McDonald was let go for another off field incident. The coach won’t be here, so what’s the point in building momentum?

Yet I can’t help myself but cheer Frank Gore on as he bulldozers over and stiff-arms his way through Charger defenders for a 52-yard TD (only his 4th TD of the season.)

Before I can stop myself, my arm is up and in the air and it’s being brought down hard on the desk and I’m cursing the FB Miller as he fumbles on the 1 yard line. Then I’m jumping off the chair when WR Ellington scores his first TD (finally some real creativity on the play calling!) and again when CB Cox and SS Bethea are rewarded for excellent seasons with a couple more INTs, the latter taking it to the house for a 21-0 lead.

What was I thinking? I can’t tank! Stuff the draft picks, we’re back playing Niner football and I’ll happily enjoy while I still can what Harbaugh has brought to the team!

The Chargers hang around, scoring a TD when gutsy Rivers, fighting through obvious injury concerns, goes 4/4 then hits WR Royal for a TD with pressure right in his face.

But then the 49ers do what they haven’t been able to do since very early in the season and answer a score with a score. They continue to rush for big gains (what are the Chargers doing on their D line?) moving down field to the 5. It appears the drive is over but then Melvin Ingram, forgetting that the Chargers NEED TO WIN TO STAY IN THE HUNT FOR PLAYOFFS, hits Kaep so far out of bounds they’re surrounded by photographers, giving the Niners another three shots at the end zone.

That penalty does prove costly. On 3rd down, WR Ellington shows courage and ploughs his little frame over bodies into the end zone for a 28-7 lead at halftime and that’s 182 yards of rushing in the first half!

The 2nd half is a ho hum affair until Aldon Smith forgets that Antonio Gates is a TD machine and leaves him to go after Rivers (such a running threat!) only to watch the ball sail overhead to Gates, and the Chargers are still in it 28-14 with 6 to go in the 3rd.

Then the Chargers’ playoff chances take a massive swing in two plays. A spectacular 75 yard TD to Vernon Davis that sees him fighting off three defenders is called back on a chop block, then Kaep decides he wants that upgrade at WR and tries to take on two tacklers while 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, fumbles and the Chargers are only down seven, when three men fall on the ball in the end zone.

But the enigma that is Kaep continues on the next series, providing the highlight of the season. He goes back to pass from the 10, evades a tackler at the 2 yard line, then races like Usain Bolt, 98 yards for the score! WHAT a play!

That would prove the last bit of fist pumping for this game (and maybe for the Harbaugh era?) With 10 min to go in the 4th, Rivers won’t let this game go. He’s like the Terminator, he just keeps fighting and fighting! He has a T-1000 exoskeleton powering him and just keeps slinging, scoring twice on back to back 80-yard drives, converting twice on 4th down to tie it up on the last drive and send it to OT.

After a Crabtree catch (why wasn’t he playing until OT?), 2nd year WR Patton (in for his first game of the year) is guilty of trying to do too much and fumbles after a great gain. The 49ers defense is completely gassed, Rivers easily works his way down into field goal land and Novak kicks truly for a 40-yard field goal, completing a spectacular comeback for the Chargers, who live to fight next week in KC.

So I could have coped with a loss, but not after 21 points up. Not after leading by 14 with 10 minutes to go. I need a beer and must remember that it’s…all…about…the…draft…picks.


San Diego 0 7 14 14 3 – 38
San Francisco 7 21 7 0 0 – 35

Dec 20
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara CA (70,699)

Passing: Philip Rivers (SD), 356 yds, 4 TD’s, 3 INT’s
Rushing: Frank Gore (SF), 26 car, 158 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Eddie Royal (SD), 10 rec, 94 yds, 1 TD
Pigskin Almanac “Impersonating a human cyborg from the future” award: Philip Rivers (SD)

About Josh Slocum

Born into the red and white of the South Melbourne Swans, I remember being amazed at age 7 to see a team with our colours that actually won something when the 1984 49ers won the Superbowl. I've been following the red, white and gold ever since. Of recent times my frustrations at not winning a Superbowl since 1994 can be heard occasionally on the aussieguysnfl podcast.


  1. What a game? Kind of says it all the late fade out; pressure adding to the Michigan University bound (hope I’m wrong) coach; and a time to look at offloading stars. Lucky Frank Gore and Kaep had their best games for the year or else it could have been an absolute slaughter.

    Sadly, next year and the 49ers is looking positively awful.

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