Rookie C Marcus Martin went down in the fourth quarter on a six-yard running play by Glenn Winston with a left knee injury. He was carted off the field in what appeared to be a collision with the Chargers and 49ers linemen. Jim Harbaugh had no updates on the injury.
Martin was a third-round draft pick of the 49ers to bring competition for Daniel Kilgore.
The 49ers struggled in the first quarter to get any offense going with two punts and a fumble inside their own red zone. On the first 12 offensive plays of the game, they only mustered up 14 yards.
However, the defense stepped it up with two stands including a fourth and 1 stopped short in the red zone. The Chargers would score on their third possession of the game with a touchdown pass to Antonio Gates.
The first-team offense had some life in the second quarter with a scoring drive of their own. After a 16-yard pass to Vernon Davis on third down, the 49ers got into field goal range to set up a 39-yard field goal by Phil Dawson.
Blaine Gabbert had a strong possession before halftime, where he completed four out of five passes including a third down conversion to Vance McDonald. Inside the red zone, he found McDonald again for the team’s first touchdown of the preseason to go ahead 10-7.
"The biggest thing is, we stuck to the process," Gabbert said. "We focused on the game plan all week. Everyone did their job and communication was at a high level."
For the game, he completed seven out of 11 passing attempts for 66 yards which included the touchdown pass to McDonald.
The second half had minimal offense until the Jimmie Ward caught an interception tipped by LB Aaron Lynch. After a 28-yard field goal by Phil Dawson, the 49ers pounded it on the ground.
Ward said he has changed his style of play from college, focusing on turnovers instead of laying the hard hits. He likes to do both on the field.
"I love to hit, but turnovers work more," Ward said. "You can argue [both ways on hits and turnovers], but I like turnovers better."
RB Glenn Winston added on with a 26-yard touchdown run and the 49ers converted the two-point conversion for team’s final score.
Harbaugh said the team improved from their first two games and was confident after this week of practice.
"[There were] just productive plays [and] execution," Harbaugh said. "Lots of players were cleanly blocked, had some passes thrown and caught. Runners were seeing the holes, just all 11 playing today in a more precise way. Throughout the game I thought we were executing better out of the huddle. In execution we improved."
The 49ers will play their final preseason game on Thursday, August 28 against the Houston Texans at 5:00 p.m. PT.
-Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Ray McDonald all made their 2014 debut by starting on defense for their first preseason game of the year.
-Stevie Johnson had a five-yard reception with the second-team offense in the third quarter, his first of the preseason
-Craig Dahl started at SS for Antoine Bethea (concussion).
-WR Brandon Lloyd and OT Anthony Davis were both inactive.
-In addition to Martin leaving, FB/DL Will Tukuafu also left the game with a concussion injury.