The San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers both have records of 1-2 this season. However, these teams are headed in different directions as they prepare for their Week 4 matchup on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET on CBS).
The Niners lost franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the season to a torn ACL at the end of their Week 3 game against the Chiefs. Backup C.J. Beathard will replace him, but he’s not nearly as talented as Garoppolo. Injury issues are also plaguing the team’s defense.
The Chargers haven’t been great, but they’ve only lost against two very high-powered offenses in the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams. They still look to be a solid team this year.
How will San Francisco begin its non-Garoppolo portion of the season in Week 4 on the road in Los Angeles? We’ll discuss some questions that will be important in deciding Sunday’s outcome, then we’ll get to some San Francisco 49ers vs LA Chargers predictions.
Did C.J. Beathard Learn Much From His Time on the Sidelines?
Without Garoppolo at quarterback, the 49ers could struggle on offense. Sure, running back Matt Breida has been surprisingly amazing so far (274 yards on just 32 carries), but he’s now struggling with a minor knee injury and is bound to come back to Earth at some point. Plus, the lack of Garoppolo’s throwing prowess means teams will stack the box even more against the Niners’ running game.
However, if Beathard has been learning from the sidelines and continuing to hone his craft, he could be surprisingly effective in his first start of the year. Last year, Beathard was thrown into the fire as a rookie and he wasn’t really ready. His numbers (54.9 completion percentage, four touchdowns, six interceptions and 6.4 yards per attempt) reflected that.
Beathard actually has some decent raw talent. His arm strength is excellent and he can make throws from outside the pocket. His issues are deep ball accuracy and a tendency to hold the ball too long. A keen knowledge of Kyle Shanahan’s intricate offensive system can help cover those weaknesses, though.
Will Philip Rivers Take Advantage of a Banged Up 49ers Secondary?
On paper, the 49ers’ secondary is one of the strengths of the team. Due to injuries, that is no longer the case. Cornerback Richard Sherman is out with a calf injury, and starting safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert both missed practice on Wednesday with injuries. Colbert did return Thursday, but Tartt remained out. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon is playing through a minor ankle injury.
Things could get ugly for the 49ers as they defend the Chargers in the passing game. Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers is seventh in the NFL in passing yards (906) and ranks fifth in passer rating (115.7). He has a nice complement of pass catchers who have great chemistry with him.
Los Angeles is obviously the moneyline favorite to win this game with the betting websites for American citizens. If the Chargers stay conservative in this contest by running the ball too much or throwing mostly short passes, they won’t maximize their potential. Rivers and the offense need to take shots down the field early and often.
Can San Francisco Win the Turnover Battle?
The 49ers’ best hope of winning, or even staying competitive in this game, is by forcing turnovers. Unfortunately for them, they haven’t done well in that area recently. San Francisco has been in the league’s bottom half for takeaways in the past three seasons and this year they have a mere two takeaways in three games.
The Chargers are not a team that gives the ball away easily, either. They have four giveaways this season, which is right around the middle of the NFL in that statistic.
San Francisco has no choice but to play very aggressively on defense, blitzing frequently and playing tight man coverage. The Niners also need to poke around for fumbles at every chance they get. In this game, they have nothing to lose as the significant underdog, so they need to hope for some key defensive takeaways.
Our Betting Preview’s San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Chargers Picks & Predictions
I don’t think Beathard has the accuracy or experience to take advantage of a Chargers defense that will focus on stopping the run. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ defense is an injured mess right now that will be absolutely decimated by a high-powered Los Angeles offense playing at home.
This preview expects a big Chargers win and a lot of points to be scored in a fast-paced game. So these are our San Francisco 49ers vs LA Chargers predictions:
- The Chargers are favorites by somewhere between 10 and 11.5 points. I expect them to win by two touchdowns or more. The best odds of Chargers -10pts @ -111 are available with Bookmaker.
- The Niners may not score much to start this game, but they’ll have to get aggressive once the Chargers take a lead. Los Angeles’ specialty is the passing game and that will be on full display this Sunday. Take the over 46 total points to be scored in the game @ -107 with BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.