Who says the last preseason game is useless? Mike Nolan insists there was some true jockeying for position on the field Thursday night. "It's not going to stay as I thought going into the game," he said of the looming cuts.
So who helped and who hurt themselves? First, let's look at who got hurt.
Jay Moore tore his right biceps and almost certainly will be placed on injured reserve, thus ending his season. This could be a blessing in disguise. Moore did not figure to make the final roster and the 49ers were eyeing him for the practice squad. There was also a chance he would be snagged off of waivers by a team in need of a defensive end. Now Moore likely will spend the year with the 49ers. It's also a case of lightning striking twice. Moore suffered a bad high-ankle sprain in last season's preseason finale against San Diego, an injury that landed him on IR.
Parys Haralson gets the bad-luck award, too. He was minutes away from going into the regular season healthy when he sprained his left shoulder. He was given an X-ray but the results are pending. If the news is bad, Rod Green and Tully Banta-Cain are shoe-ins to make the final roster. I think those two make it anyway, but depth suddenly looks like an issue in what was previously a crowded position.
Ashley Lelie played the whole game. He had nary a catch, which is an accomplishment considering that 10 other 49ers had at least one grab. But that may be secondary to Lelie finishing the game healthy. He said he felt good on the field and that he wasn't slowed by his calf injury.
Larry Grant could have sealed the win with an interception on the Chargers' final drive. He dropped the would-be pick (and what would have been a glorious TD) but he and Dennis Haley played like they were possessed during the series. Mike Nolan said Grant not only caught his eye on that series but on an earlier one as well. Grant was definitely on the bubble heading into the game. Did he salvage a spot? Tune in tomorrow ...
Marcus Hudson had a few nice hits in the secondary. But he was covering Eldra Buckley when Buckley made the game-winning TD catch on fourth down. Not only that but Hudson committed a flagrant pass-interference penalty and still Buckley caught the pass. That will stand out in film review tomorrow morning.
In addition to Haralson and Moore, Aubrayo Franklin sprained his knee and did not return; Ronald Fields sprained his elbow and did return. If Franklin's injury is serious, it could mean Walter Curry, LaJuan Ramsey or Atiyyah Ellison is back in the running for a roster spot.
David Baas played well at left guard. Baas admitted he was tentative at first, but once he got over the mental hurdle of playing again, he got comfortable and settled down. Baas spent the offseason of 2006 at left guard. It will be interesting to see whether he or Adam Snyder starts there Sept. 7 against the Cardinals. As I wrote earlier, Snyder was out of his plastic boot and running sprints before the game.
Why didn't JTO, who has all of four preseason starts to his name, play? I'm not sure I quite understand this explanation but this is what Nolan said. Because the 49ers' first-team offense practiced all week against the 49ers' first-team defense ... and because the 49ers' defense is similar to the Chargers defense, Nolan figured it was as good as a game. "He got more than a game," Nolan said of the practice reps. "He got basically 2 ½ games this week."
The others who were healthy scratches for the game: defenders Nate Clements, Walt Harris, Justin Smith and Patrick Willis; and Frank Gore and Isaac Bruce on offense.
Greatest offensive decision of Mike Nolan's coaching career? Not going for the 51-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. Why risk more injuries (See: Haralson; Parys)? It also would have crimped my deadline. Nolan for coach of the year, I say ...
Mark Roman and Dashon Goldson wore the radio receivers for the defense.
-- Matt Barrows