The San Francisco 49ers were the second NFC West powerhouse to come into San Diego and embarrass the Chargers.
If San Diego's starters had played, maybe it would be competitive. But the 49ers, like the Seattle Seahawks earlier this month, proved to be much deeper than the Chargers in a 41-6 victory Thursday night in the exhibition finale for both teams.
Here are five things we know about the 49ers from the exhibition season:
ONE AND DONE: Colin Kaepernick looks ready for his first full season as starter. He threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Quintin Patton to cap his only drive. Kaepernick faked an inside handoff and then threw a short sidearm pass to Quinton Patton, who deked rookie free agent Marcus Cromartie and completed the 43-yard scoring play. "I like being on the field," said Kaepernick, who made 10 starts as a rookie last year, leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Kaepernick completed 3 of 4 passes for 64 yards for a rating of 156.2, which is nearly perfect.
CAPTAIN COMEBACK: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was back on the field where, in 1995, he led the Indianapolis Colts to a wild-card playoff upset of the defending AFC champion Chargers. Harbaugh led the Colts to within a desperation heave of the Super Bowl. He got the 49ers into the Super Bowl last season before losing to brother John's Baltimore Ravens. Now, he'd like to win one.
SENECA SIGNS OFF: Seneca Wallace, at the bottom of the 49ers depth chart at quarterback, left the team earlier Thursday. "He's not going to continue to play football," Harbaugh said. Wallace didn't travel to San Diego. He was listed as No. 4 on the depth chart behind Kaepernick, Colt McCoy and B.J. Daniels. Harbaugh said it was Wallace's decision: "I don't talk people out of it, especially not on game day," the coach said. Wallace, a seven-year veteran who was not in the league last year, played five seasons in Seattle and two in Cleveland. He was signed by San Francisco earlier this month after the Saints cut him.
CAM TIME: 49ers linebacker Cam Thomas had a big game, blocking a punt and recovering the ball in the end zone for a touchdown, and sacking Charlie Whitehurst twice. "Everything seemed to be happening the right way," Johnson said. On the blocked punt, "I went after the ball and got a hand on it. I was looking around for it. I saw it rolling around in the end zone and jumped on it. I had no idea where it rolled."
CIRCUS ACT: Niners free agent pickup Lavelle Hawkins had a spectacular 45-yard touchdown play in the fourth quarter. A short pass from B.J. Daniels bounced off Hawkins' hands and into the air, but the receiver grabbed it before being hit by rookie safety Jahleel Addae. Addae didn't wrap up, and Hawkins swept to the left and finished the scoring run for a 34-6 lead. "When I took the first hit I was bounced back," Hawkins said. "I don't know what I was thinking after that. I was just running, man."
And five things we know about the Chargers:
STARKS REALITY: Veteran left tackle Max Starks, who won two Super Bowl rings with Pittsburgh, might have played himself out of San Diego. Starks already had apparently lost the starting job to King Dunlap, and then he allowed three sacks to the 49ers. "It was probably one of my worst games in my entire career." Starks said. "Anytime there's a guy I'm actually touching, I take responsibility for that."
MEACHEM HURT: Chargers wide receiver Robert Meachem, who has a guaranteed $5 million salary, sustained a concussion after making his fourth catch of the night. It might have been the last time he was on the field with the Chargers. Meachem has been a forgotten man since dropping a potential touchdown pass in a 7-6 loss at Cleveland last season.
NO TURNOVERS FOR RIVERS: What's the best way for the Chargers to keep Philip Rivers from committing a turnover? Have him sit out. Rivers, who has committed a total of 47 turnovers the last two seasons, dressed but didn't play. His backups had a rough night. Charlie Whitehurst was sacked four times and threw an interception. Third-stringer Brad Sorensen threw two interceptions, although he made a nice tackle of Craig Dahl.
HAPPY DAYS: Fozzy Whittaker, competing for a spot behind Ryan Matthews in San Diego's backfield, carried 10 times for 59 yards. That makes him the Chargers' leading ballcarrier in the exhibition season with 155 yards. Matthews didn't play Thursday night.
STADIUM ENVY? Not only did Chargers ownership and the front office have to look at a 49ers team that's much deeper than the Chargers, but they saw a team that will move into a new stadium next year. This will be the 49ers' last year at Candlestick Park before moving into $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium at the team's Silicon Valley headquarters in Santa Clara. The stadium will host the 50th Super Bowl in February 2016. The Chargers, by comparison, have tried futility for more than 10 years to find someone to help them build a new venue to replace rapidly aging Qualcomm stadium.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org