This Thursday's game against the 49'rs will be the most meaningless contest of the preseason. San Diego's brain trust probably has a solid idea of who they're going to cut and keep at this point minus just a few names. The starters won't get enough time to show us much. So things are pretty much set for the regular season, barring any freak injuries tomorrow night.
The Chargers will go into the 2010 season with some weaknesses and question marks at the offensive tackle positions, wide receiver, outside linebacker and safety. Fans shouldn't be surprised if the Chargers lose some games early on they would have been expected to win in previous years. Unless Shawne Merriman returns with a vengeance, unless AJ drops his arrogance and brings in Jackson and McNeill, unless some 2nd stringers or rookies suddenly show vast improvement, the San Diego Chargers will begin this year a lesser team than last year.
All that being said, this season will rise and fall on the brilliance of Rivers and Gates and the fresh legs and power of Ryan Mathews. They will have to make up for a non-threatening defense and a flawed offensive line. It seems the Chargers are willing to take a step backwards this season, rather than get into "uncomfortable" contracts under the new CBA to be negotiated next year.
Back to Thursday night, the Mike Singletary-led 49'rs will test the Chargers' toughness by playing hard through four quarters. It will be interesting to see if San Diego folds even in garbage time during the 3rd and 4th quarters. One could look at this as test of Norv's lack of "fire" vs. Singletary's wide-eyed intensity.
Let's see what happens.