49ers at Chargers: Who to Watch For

Three players to keep an eye on Thursday night at Qualcomm Stadium

The Chargers made it through the first three preseason games with only one substantial injury: running back Branden Oliver was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon that he suffered in Sunday’s game against the Vikings.

Relatively speaking, that’s a good outcome for an NFL team so don’t expect to see any regular starters playing in Thursday’s exhibition finale against the 49ers at Qualcomm Stadium (at least not for very long). Instead the Bolts will be sending out reserves that need extra repetitions or guys fighting for the last few roster spots.

With that in mind, here are three players to keep an eye on:

Isaiah Burse, WR/KR

Oliver was being looked at as the kickoff returner so that job is now open. Burse is now listed as the top guy on the depth chart (with Travis Benjamin handling punts). Burse is no stranger to bringing back kicks. His sophomore year at Fresno State he set FBS record with 75 kickoff returns for 1,606 yards. The Bolts know Keenan Allen, Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams are on the roster. They need at least one more wideout. If Burse can impress with his return skills he can earn the spot.

Chris Swain, FB

Derek Watt has played well at fullback and gotten the majority of the snaps but Swain has impressed statistic services like Football Outsiders who say he’s played extremely well. Plus, who is not rooting for the kid from Navy to make the team? With Oliver out and Dreamius Smith waived with an injury there is suddenly a need for a 4th running back behind Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead and Watt. A nice showing on Thursday from Swain, on the Chargers’ 28th annual Salute to the Military Night, could help him make the final cut. If not he’s still likely shown more than enough to earn a spot on San Diego’s practice squad.

Craig Mager, CB … Steve Williams, CB … Adrian Phillips, S

OK, that makes five guys to watch but this is an interesting quandary. Safety Dexter McCoil has probably earned himself a roster spot to go with Jahleel Addae, Dwight Lowery and Darrell Stuckey. We know Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers and Casey Hayward are your starting defensive backs. The Chargers kept nine defensive backs last year so if they do the same in 2016 at leaves two spots. Problem is they have three guys who they like. Mager has come on strong on special teams and Williams has vital game experience. Phillips has made a multitude of plays in practice but it hasn’t carried over consistently to games. This will be the last chance for all of them to make a case for the 53-man roster.

Contact Us