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(Thursday, December 16th)
Final Score: San Diego 34, San Francisco 7
San Diego, CA (Sports Network) - Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes to Vincent Jackson, and the San Diego Chargers earned their sixth win in seven games with a 34-7 rout of San Francisco on Thursday.
Rivers was 19-of-25 for 273 yards, connecting with Jackson for 112 of them, including a 58-yard touchdown in the first quarter that gave the Chargers (8-6) the lead for good.
San Francisco got its only offense from Brian Westbrook's three-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, losing for the third time in five games while picking up just 11 first downs and gaining only 192 yards.
"I can't say enough about our defense," said Chargers head coach Norv Turner.
Alex Smith got his second straight start for the 49ers (5-9) after throwing for three touchdowns in Sunday's 40-21 win over Seattle. But he passed for only 165 yards and an interception in this one.
The 49ers are still above .500 (5-4) since their 0-5 start, but they will remain at least one game behind Seattle and St. Louis for first place in a weak NFC West.
"I felt like we were ready to play, we just did not execute," said 49ers head coach Mike Singletary. "We gotta coach better and we gotta execute better."
San Diego, meanwhile, has a chance to tie Kansas City for the AFC West lead if the Chiefs lose in St. Louis on Sunday. Not bad for a team that was just 2-5 on October 24 after losing its third straight game.
"When you got a bunch of guys that love to play, you got a chance (to make the playoffs)," said Rivers. "You got a chance if you're 2-5, you got a chance if you're 4-8, you got a chance if you're 6-6 and all but out.
"Here we sit, with two weeks to go, and we have a chance."
The home fans at Qualcomm Stadium on Thursday night were able to relax almost from the moment Jackson beat cornerback Nate Clements for a jump ball to give San Diego a 7-0 lead on the first series of the game.
The 6-foot-5 Jackson out-jumped the 6-foot Clements near the right sideline, then bullied his way 10 yards into the end zone on the fourth play from scrimmage in the game.
It was Jackson's first touchdown since he scored twice in Week 15 last season. But he wasn't done. He added an 11-yard TD catch in the second quarter and a 21-yarder in the fourth for the first three-touchdown game of his career.
"He's always been a big-play receiver, but man I have to say this is the best I've seen him after the catch," Rivers said of Jackson. "He seems just to be super comfortable. Not that he wasn't in the past, but he's catching the ball and going to score."
The embattled wideout had five catches while suiting up for his third game since ending a holdout and serving his three-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
"Obviously this team was putting up some big wins when I wasn't here, but I'm just happy to be here now," said Jackson. "This team is moving in the right direction and I'm glad to be a part of it."
Meanwhile, things were pretty ugly for the 49ers.
Their first mistake was taking three points off the scoreboard early in the second quarter after Jeff Reed made a 38-yard field goal. The 49ers accepted a Chargers penalty instead that was called on Antonio Garay for kneeling on the back of a San Francisco lineman in an attempt to block the kick.
Two plays later, Smith appeared to scamper around the left side for a seven- yard touchdown run. But only his body -- and not the ball -- broke the plane of the goal line when he crashed into the pylon.
On a 4th-and-1 play, Anthony Dixon was stopped behind the line of scrimmage by linebacker Brandon Siler and the 49ers walked away without any points.
On the ensuing San Diego possession, 49ers defensive end Justin Smith was ejected from the game for pushing referee Garth DeFelice out of the way as he argued with a Chargers player.
San Diego then marched 90 yards and got a 25-yard field goal from Nate Kaeding for a 10-0 lead with six minutes remaining in the first half.
The Chargers carried a 17-0 lead into the locker room after Rivers found Jackson wide-open behind a defender for a touchdown in the final two minutes. The 87-yard scoring drive was aided by Kelley Washington's 36-yard catch and run and a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on the 49ers.
San Francisco return man Ted Ginn Jr. took the second-half kickoff 85 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown that was nullified by a face mask penalty.
The 49ers punted instead, and the Chargers moved 58 yards on the ensuing drive and took a 24-0 lead on Mike Tolbert's one-yard burst into the end zone.
Tolbert and Ryan Mathews both carried 17 times, with Tolbert picking up 46 yards and Mathews rushing for 56.
San Diego's next series ended with Jackson's 21-yard touchdown catch to make it 31-0 five plays into the fourth quarter. Diving at the goal line, Jackson stretched the ball over the pylon and the TD was upheld upon review.
The Chargers then turned Steve Gregory's 41-yard interception into a 39-yard field goal from Kaeding to make it 34-0, and the 49ers got their only points on Westbrook's three-yard TD on the ensuing drive.
Westbrook gained just 22 yards on eight carries, while Dixon rushed six times for 33 yards. San Francisco was playing its third game since losing starter Frank Gore to a fractured hip.
San Diego tight end Antonio Gates missed his second straight game with a right foot injury. Wide receiver Malcom Floyd (hamstring) also sat out for the Chargers...Smith was 19-of-29...49ers receiver Josh Morgan had a game-high seven catches for 106 yards...Jackson ended with five catches...The Chargers tied the all-time series at 6-6 with their third straight win...San Diego picked up 24 first downs and gained 374 yards.
12/17 02:41:42 ET
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