San Francisco 49ers’ linebacker Cam Johnson looked to lock up his roster spot with a terrific performance in the team’s 41-6 blowout win over the San Diego Chargers. Johnson played lights out, compiling 2 sacks, a blocked punt which he also recovered for a touchdown, six tackles, and 2 quarterback hits, one of which helped teammate Michael Wilhoite intercept a pass from Chargers quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. If this performance did not bolster Johnson’s chances of making the 49ers’ final 53-man roster, nothing will.
The defense as a whole had a stellar night. Linebackers Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier joined Johnson in sacking Whitehurst. Safety Craig Dahl picked off Chargers quarterback Brad Sorensen, with help from linebacker Nate Stupar who got a hand on the ball. Cornerback Tramaine Brock, who made a huge hit on a Chargers receiver early in the second half, picked off Sorensen as well.
While the Chargers’ quarterbacks struggled, the 49ers’ quarterbacks shined. Starter Colin Kaepernick’s brief playing time in the first quarter included a 43-yard touchdown pass to rookie Quinton Patton. Quarterback B.J. Daniels displayed impressive speed on a 36-yard run which helped set up a 15-yard touchdown pass to Chuck Jacobs. Receiver Lavelle Hawkins showed his own explosiveness on a 45-yard touchdown reception late in the game.
The team’s many highlights from this fourth preseason game were offset by some concerns. Running back LaMichael James, who struggled in his pass protection, left the game with a reported knee injury early in the second quarter. Johnson also appeared to have a minor hand injury in the second half. Kicker Phil Dawson, who has been pretty solid for the most part, missed a 52-yard field goal also in the second half. Quarterback Seneca Wallace, signed by the 49ers last week, did not show up for team meetings prior to the game and did not make the flight to San Diego. The 49ers will reportedly release Wallace, who may be done with football altogether according to Jim Harbaugh.
Other players who may not make the 49ers’ final roster include Stupar, Hawkins, Jacobs, Austin Collie, Kassim Osgood, Chad Hall, MarQueis Gray, Bubba Ventrone, Trenton Robinson, Travis Johnson and Darryl Morris: Prior to his dominating performance against the Chargers, Cam Johnson was also on the bubble. If the team keeps Johnson, they may not be able to keep Skuta who also had a great game and has been a very good special teams’ performer. The 49ers must make their final roster cuts by Saturday, August 31.
Sara DeBord is an NFL writer for www.footballandfutbol.com and www.baysportsreport.com.