The San Diego Chargers travel north to face the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on Thursday in the final preseason game of the season.
The last tune-up to the regular season will feature the return of some prominent players.
Rivers had a down year in 2011, and still made that Pro Bowl. While the Chargers have certainly underachieved at points with him at quarterback, there’s no denying he’s one of the best in the league. He’s thrown for at least 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns in each of the past four seasons.
LaMichael James will be a player to watch for the 49ers. The rookie running back is expected to return after suffering a mild injury to his ankle. James only has 36 yards on eight carries during the preseason, but the second-round draft pick may play a key role behind Frank Gore in the 2012 season.
Outside linebacker Aldon Smith is also expected to play, while wide receiver Mario Manningham will miss the game to attend his grandfather's funeral.
The Chargers have won all three preseason games and will have quarterback Philip Rivers back in action. Norv Turner decided to sit Rivers because three offensive linemen were sidelined.
Left guard Tyronne Green, who was sidelined with a foot injury, returned to full practice. Center Nick Hardwick is questionable, but left tackle Jared Gaither has been ruled out.
Antonio Gates is also expected to play for the Chargers after being rested in Week Three of preseason.
The Chargers begin their season on Sept. 10 in a Monday night road game against the Oakland Raiders, while the 49ers begin their season on Sunday, Sept. 9, on the road against the Green Bay Packers.
The Chargers-49ers game starts at 7 p.m. pacific time, and can be seen online here: https://preseason.nfl.com/nflpl/secure/packages?ttv=5&ttp=3
Prediction: 49ers over Chargers 21-17
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