SANTA CLARA (AP) — Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard capped an impressive preseason with a surprising 62-yard touchdown run that helped the San Francisco 49ers beat the Los Angeles Chargers 23-13 Thursday night.
The 49ers drafted Beathard in the third round because of his experience as a pocket passer in a pro-style offense. He justified the move by posting a 107.7 passer rating this preseason, but showed off some running skills as well in the second quarter.
Beathard was flushed out of the pocket and began to scramble. He juked safety Dwight Lowery about 17 yards downfield and then outraced the rest of the Chargers to the end zone. Teammate Joe Staley jokingly offered Beathard an oxygen mask on the sideline, but the quarterback declined.
Beathard’s play this preseason has been a bright spot for the 49ers as he has outperformed veteran Matt Barkley and will go into the season as the backup to Brian Hoyer, with the potential to possibly develop into a starter down the road.
The Chargers used the final preseason game to get a long look at their third-string quarterback. Cardale Jones got the start with Philip Rivers and backup Kellen Clemens resting. Jones finished 14 for 19 for 134 yards with one interception and led the team to one field goal in eight first-half drives.
SLOPPY START: The Chargers turned over the ball on the first two possessions of the game. Jones threw an interception on the opening drive when his short pass bounced off tight end Sean Culkin’s hands and right to Asa Jackson, who finished with two interceptions on the day. On Los Angeles’ next play from scrimmage, Adrian Colbert drilled Kenjon Barner, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Leger Douzable. Jones then fumbled again in the second quarter on a sack by Dekoda Watson.
HAPPY RETURNS: Victor Bolden gave the 49ers another dynamic return. He took a punt back 92 yards in the second quarter for his second return touchdown of the preseason. Bolden already had a kickoff return for a touchdown when he took one 104 yards against Denver two weeks ago. San Francisco hasn’t had a kick or punt return for a TD in the regular season since Ted Ginn Jr. had one of each in the 2011 opener.
OLD FRIENDS: Beathard got a rude greeting from his former teammate at Iowa, Desmond King. On third down on the second drive of the game, King came in unblocked on a corner blitz and sacked Beathard from the blind side .
WHOOPS: When Chargers linebacker Chris McCain went down with an injury late in the first half, Los Angeles was forced to take a timeout. Referee John Hussey initially announced “Timeout, San Diego,” before correcting himself to Los Angeles. The Chargers move to L.A. this offseason.
ROSTER PUSH: Undrafted rookie Austin Ekeler made a strong final case for making the Chargers roster. The former Division II back at Western State in Colorado ran for 50 yards on eight carries and had three catches for 58 yards.
KNEEL DOWN: Niners safety Eric Reid once again kneeled for the national anthem and had about 10 teammates standing around him.
Some of those teammates had arms around Reid, who resumed protesting the anthem last week after joining Colin Kaepernick in it a year ago. Reid said he was upset about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
More AP NFL: pro32.ap.org and twitter.com/AP_NFL