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49ers save best for last, beat Chargers in finale

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49ers save best for last, beat Chargers in finale

Sept. 1, 2011
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SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Now that the exhibition season is over, the San Diego Chargers have just over a week to get ready for Adrian Peterson.That's after looking shaky against Anthony Dixon and the San Francisco 49ers.With Frank Gore getting the night off after signing a big deal, Dixon capped San Francisco's first two drives with 1-yard touchdown runs and the 49ers beat the Chargers 20-17 in an exhibition finale Thursday night.It was a last chance for rookies and other players on the bubble to impress the coaches before the final roster cutdowns on Saturday.Then it's on to opening day on Sept. 11. The 49ers (2-2), under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh, host the Seattle Seahawks. The Chargers (2-2), heading into their fifth year under Norv Turner, host Peterson and the Vikings.
MAIOCCO: 49ers vs. Chargers in-game notes
The Chargers' first-string defense didn't look impressive against the 49ers' running game, allowing 54 yards on the ground on San Francisco's opening drive, which covered 80 yards behind starter Alex Smith. The Bolts have a little more than a week to prepare for Peterson, who set the NFL's single-game record with 296 yards when the Vikings last played San Diego, in 2007."We had a lot of guys missing. We have to get them caught up and get them where they are ready to play at a high level for an extended period of time," Turner said.The 49ers had six sacks.Gore, who rarely plays in exhibitions, sat out a day after signing a 21 million, three-year contract extension.Smith was in for the first two drives as the 49ers rebounded from an embarrassing 30-7 loss to Houston."I don't know if we had anything to prove," Smith said. "We definitely wanted to get the taste out of our mouth from last week, though. Get some rhythm, convert on some third downs, move some chains and hopefully put points on the board, and we were able to do that."We took the opening drive all the way down and stuck it in and were able to get the ball on the turnover and put that one in, as well. So it was a great start," said Smith, who was 8 of 10 passing for 45 yards.San Diego held out offensive stars Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd.Running back Ryan Mathews, coming off an uneven rookie season, showed his speed with a 56-yard scoring burst in the second quarter. Earlier, he failed to pick up blitzing NaVorro Bowman, who sacked Billy Volek, forced a fumble and recovered. That set up Dixon's second TD run."I was definitely pleased the way the offensive line played," Harbaugh said. "I thought they played with a lot of urgency and it's been a challenge for them all week. It was a short week, but a good week."Dixon had 45 yards on 11 carries. Rookie Kendall Hunter had 57 yards on 11 carries."It was simple," Dixon said. "I stayed low, lowered my pads, got up in there behind my big boys and we made it happen. It gives you more confidence, and once you get your confidence to a certain level, you can do whatever."Rookie Jordan Todman also lost a fumble for the Chargers, who missed the playoffs last year because of special teams gaffes and turnovers. Rookie quarterback Scott Tolzien threw an interception and was sacked five times. He also threw a nine-yard TD pass to Seyi Ajirotutu with 1:21 left."I liked getting Ryan going," Turner said. "It was good to see him break the long run. I thought he hit some good runs up in there, too. Obviously you can't win in this league if you turn the ball over. I'm disappointed that we had the two turnovers."The Chargers, in turn, intercepted 49ers rookie Colin Kaepernick twice.Kaepernick came on early in the second quarter in place of Alex Smith, who led the first two scoring drives. He was intercepted by rookie cornerback Marcus Gilchrist in the end zone.Kaepernick was picked off later in the second quarter by Dante Hughes on a tipped ball.Both teams had turned it over to second- and third-stringers by early in the second quarter.NOTES: Even though he didn't play, Gore was in uniform. ... Sitting out from the Chargers' first-team defense were ILB Larry English, T Antonio Garay and OLB Shaun Phillips. ... Chargers LBs Travis LaBoy and Takeo Spikes were captains against their former team.

Montana, Clark scheduled to address crowd at Levi's Stadium

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AP

Montana, Clark scheduled to address crowd at Levi's Stadium

SANTA CLARA -- Dwight Clark and Joe Montana are scheduled to address the crowd Sunday at Levi’s Stadium at halftime of the 49ers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.

It should be an emotional day, as 36 members from the team that defeated Dallas in the NFC Championship Game and went on to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title are expected to attend.

Montana is scheduled to be surrounded by his former teammates and speak from the field at halftime. Clark is likely to be situated in a suite, where he is expected to make some remarks. Clark, 60, announced in March he was diagnosed with ALS.

Former 49ers offensive lineman Randy Cross, appearing on the 49ers Insider Podcast, said he is looking forward to seeing so many of his teammates from the squad that served as a springboard for five Super Bowl titles under the ownership of Hall of Famer Eddie DeBartolo.

“I can’t wait to see (Clark),” Cross said. “I can’t wait to see Eddie. I can’t wait to see Joe. There is a core group of guys I’ve gotten to see a few times a year since we all went our separate ways. There are guys I’ll get a chance to see, in some cases, (for the first time) since almost around the time we parted ways in the early-‘80s.”

The NFC Championship Game on Jan. 10, 1982, is best-remembered for “The Catch” – Clark’s leaping, finger-tip grab of a Montana pass for a 6-yard touchdown with 51 seconds remaining.

The 49ers defeated the Cowboys 28-27 at Candlestick Park. Coach Bill Walsh’s team went on to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-21, in Super Bowl XVI.

“For those of us who played on the Niners charity basketball team with both Joe and Dwight, and knowing their hoop skills and the way they could jump, we weren’t terribly surprised at: A, how high he threw it; and, B, how high Dwight got,” said Cross, who was blocking from his right guard position near the sideline and had an unobstructed view of the play.

“If Dwight got his fingers on it, it was going to be a catch. That was the thing about D.C., you won’t find too many instances in which he had a ball on him or near him that he dropped. There wasn’t much doubt.”

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Kyle Shanahan is, self admittedly, not a patient person. As he watched quarterback C.J. Beathard run the scout team over the last couple of weeks -- how he visualized an unfamiliar play, went through his progressions and handled the defensive coverages -- the head coach saw rapid improvement every day. But he suppressed any urge to play the rookie before he was ready.

“I tried to wait for the right time for him and the right time for the team,” Shanahan explained.

Down 14-0 to Washington halfway through the second quarter with starter Brian Hoyer struggling, Shanahan knew Beathard’s time had come.

“I felt the team needed it right then,” Shanahan said. “It also made me more confident to do it because I thought he was ready for it, also.”

Moments after the game was over, Shanahan named Beathard the starter. Watching the game tape on the flight home only bolstered his decision.

“By no means was he perfect, missed a couple of things, but that always happens,” Shanahan said. “I thought he came in there, didn’t hesitate, competed. The moment was not too big for him. Made a few plays in rhythm, made a few off schedule plays and was a big reason we got back in that game.”

Beathard led the 49ers on two scoring drives and finished 19-of-36 with 245 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, though it came on fourth-and-20 on his final pass attempt of the game. On his 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, Beathard extended the play when the fifth year receiver wasn’t where he expected him to be.

“He was supposed to go to the post for a certain coverage, and they had a busted coverage, so he just hung out there which is why C.J. didn’t see it right away,” Shanahan explained. “We had enough protection where he could take a couple more hitches. He drove the pocket and saw where Aldrick was, and he didn’t hesitate. Made that throw with that arm strength.”

Shanahan smirked at his not-so-subtle dig at those who questioned Beathard’s arm strength during the draft process. He sees a quarterback who can make all the throws, and make them from the pocket, and scramble when he needs to. All he needs now, Shanahan contends, is experience.

“It’s about playing in the game and reacting to defenses, reacting to coverages, reacting to adjustments. He’s going to see a lot of things he hasn’t seen before, and that will change each week. It will probably change each quarter.”

Helping Beathard continue to grow through those experiences will require patience, but in this situation, it’s the kind the head coach can handle.

“You’re never going to get a quick answer. You see over time, but he’s got the ability to do it. He’s got the mental toughness to do it. I think he will get better the more he plays.”