AFC West: San Diego Chargers

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Chargers refuted a report from a St. Louis radio station that the team has a deal in place for a new stadium in Los Angeles.

Andy Strickland of CBS Sports radio 920 AM in St. Louis reported Friday that according to high-ranking officials in St. Louis, Chargers owner Dean Spanos has a deal in place with Goldman Sachs to build a stadium in Los Angeles, and the NFL asked him to hold off from announcing or releasing those plans.

You can listen to that report here.

Earlier this month, a developer and a company operated by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke unveiled plans to build an 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, California, on land he owns near Hollywood Park.

“He’s very, very unhappy that all of sudden Kroenke goes ahead and does his thing without the NFL’s approval,” Strickland said, referring to Spanos.

Mark Fabiani, the Chargers’ special counsel and the point person on the stadium issue, refuted the report.

“Although we have worked for years with Goldman Sachs as our investment banker, the remainder of the story is untrue,” Fabiani said.

Goldman Sachs helped set up a financing plan for the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium. However, the investment banking firm was not responsible for raising revenue to help pay for the project.

The Chargers also had to dispel similar speculation in 2010 after a report from a Canadian sports talk radio show host claiming that the Spanos family had sold 35 percent of the Chargers to Los Angeles entrepreneur Phil Anschutz, who heads up AEG’s efforts to build an NFL stadium in Los Angeles.

Fabiani reiterated the team’s commitment to working toward a solution on a stadium deal in San Diego before testing the waters elsewhere.

“If we didn’t want to be here, why would we have worked on this for 13 years?” Fabiani said. “There’s been plenty of opportunities to move to Los Angeles. People forget Ed Roski has had a stadium entitled in the City of Industry since 2008. And by entitled, I mean done, ready and everything settled – every environmental review cleared and every lawsuit settled.

“AEG has had an entitled site for a couple years downtown, ready to go and everything settled. So if Dean had wanted to move, he would have moved a long time ago.”
Like you, I’m watching coverage of the Senior Bowl on the NFL Network from home this week.

While it would be nice to be on hand in Mobile, Alabama, getting an up-close look at individual drill work in person, a lot can be gleaned from the daily television coverage of practice.

Here are a few thoughts and observations on players who could make some sense for the San Diego Chargers in this year’s NFL draft. I watched the North team practice.

Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke: At 6-foot-3 and 323 pounds, I thought Tomlinson showed good power and did a nice job staying low and not getting off balance during one-on-one pass-protection drills. An All-ACC performer, Tomlinson is a four-year starter who earned his degree in December in psychology and evolutionary anthropology and would like to explore a career in the medical field once his playing days are over. Tomlinson is smart player who would be a good fit for Chargers offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris.

T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh: At 6-5 and 307 pounds, Clemmings passes the eye test. He moves well and appears to have the athletic ability to deal with elite edge rushers. However, he’s raw in terms of technique. Clemmings will have a steep learning curve at the next level.

Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State: Smith showed good body control and the ability to make contested catches during one-on-one drills. He’s a speed demon, and you can’t ignore his production for the Buckeyes -- he finished with 30 touchdown catches and averaged 20.7 yards per reception in four seasons at Ohio State.

Henry Anderson, DE, Stanford: At 6-6 and 287 pounds, I like Anderson’s versatility, playing up and down the defensive line for the Cardinal. He also showed good energy and a relentless nature in pass-rush drills.

Hau'oli Kikaha, DE, Washington: At 6-2, 246 pounds, Kikaha is a natural pass rusher who finished with 19 sacks for the Huskies in his final season. He appeared to struggle in pass coverage but could be a fit for a team like San Diego looking for more speed off the edge in passing situations. Kikaha played in 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes at Washington.
SAN DIEGO -- Mark Fabiani says it’s the most asked question he receives from fans of the San Diego Chargers looking for a new stadium built for the team in this city.

Why can’t the Chargers put together a financing plan similar to that of the $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium recently completed by the San Francisco 49ers? Both teams are located in California, and the 49ers successfully found a way to skirt around the cumbersome legal hurdles to raising tax money to help subsidize an NFL stadium.

The 49ers used personal seat licenses, or PSLs, as a major funding source for the stadium project. A tool used to help fund NFL stadiums, PSLs are one-time fees for the right to buy season tickets in a specific seat for the length of a team’s stadium lease. PSLs can be transferred or sold to family members or other parties.

Fabiani, special council to Chargers president Dean Spanos and the team’s point person on the stadium issue, wishes the answer was as easy as duplicating San Francisco’s financing plan for Levi’s Stadium. However, he said the Chargers do not have enough local corporate support for that type of financing plan to pencil out in San Diego, according to studies performed by consultants for the Chargers.

Fabiani also noted the San Diego Padres tried to sell PSLs when they opened Petco Park and did not do very well.

“Everyone in San Diego for as long as the Chargers have been here have been used to simply paying for a ticket,” he said. “And to then ask that same person to pay a fee up front in order to have a right to buy a ticket, our consultants who have studied this say there’s very little chance with that approach in San Diego.”

Fabiani pointed to PSL sales for stadiums in Minnesota and Atlanta as being dramatically lower than what the 49ers achieved in Santa Clara. And Fabiani said San Diego’s projected PSL sales would be lower than Minnesota and Atlanta, because those two stadium projects are located in the biggest cities in their respective states.

“San Diego is obviously not either the biggest or the most important city in California,” Fabiani said. “The number of corporate headquarters that exist in San Diego is relatively small. Our support is based on individual fans as opposed to major corporations that are willing to pay a lot of money up front for PSLs or for suites.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, PSLs are estimated to bring in $312 million for Levi’s Stadium, much less than the projected $500 million.

According to Sports Business Daily, the New York Jets and New York Giants are projected to generate a combined $725 million in PSLs to help pay for the $1.6 billion MetLife Stadium, while the Dallas Cowboys are projected to generate $650 million to help cover total costs of the $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium.

By comparison, teams in smaller markets like Minnesota and Atlanta are targeting PSL sales closer to $100 million or less to cover costs for new stadiums in those cities.

“It’s just a different market,” Fabiani said about San Diego. “I’m not complaining about our market. It’s a great market and we’re happy to be here. We’re not raising this issue affirmatively. But when people ask the question, that is the answer.”
SAN DIEGO -- In this ESPN Insider piece Insider, NFL Insider Matt Williamson examines the top destinations for Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, who is scheduled to become a free agent in March.

Murray finished with a league-leading 1,845 rushing yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He totaled 13 rushing touchdowns and 57 catches during the regular season.

Williamson believes Murray likely will stay with the Cowboys, but pegs the San Diego Chargers as No. 6 on his list of possible landing spots for the talented back.

Williamson: "Donald Brown did nothing in his first year in San Diego and Ryan Mathews' contract is set to expire. Philip Rivers is not a young man and has taken a beating behind a constantly changing offensive line the past few seasons, so the Chargers need a running game and also have some money to spend in free agency. The line needs work, and a speedster wide receiver would be a very welcome addition, but they can't count on Branden Oliver as their lead running back if they plan to get back into the playoffs. Murray would be a great guy to lean on in the near future.”

My take: Murray is a good combination of a physical runner who can create explosive plays because of his ability to stretch the defense on perimeter runs. He explodes through contact and accelerates well at the second level. I also like his pass-catching ability out of the backfield, which would be a good fit for San Diego's offense. However, Murray turns 27 on Feb. 12, so age is a concern. Even more concerning is Murray's injury history -- he's played one, 16-game season in his four-year pro career. And with what the Chargers have gone through with Mathews, I would be surprised if general manager Tom Telesco invested the type of money necessary in free agency to secure a player with Murray's resume, particularly heading into a draft loaded with game-changing prospects at running back.
SAN DIEGO -- Shareece Wright could be looking for the upcoming season. The versatile corner started 14 games and played in a career-high 788 snaps for the San Diego Chargers in 2014, finishing sixth on the team in tackles with 60 and totaling 10 pass breakups.

The USC product showed improved play as a tackler and a defender. But he also failed to put up better numbers as a playmaker, with just one career interception in four seasons.

A third-round selection by the Chargers in 2011, Wright is one of 17 undrafted free agents for San Diego expected to hit the market in March.

"I would love to come back," Wright said. "This is where I was drafted. This is the team I always wanted to play for. Playing press, man-to-man corner, that's what I do best. And that's what we do a lot here. But it doesn't matter how I feel. It matters how they feel."

Jason Verrett, a first-round draft choice for the Chargers, will likely be penciled in as a starter after rehabbing this offseason from a second shoulder surgery. And Chargers general manager Tom Telesco liked what he saw from veteran Brandon Flowers, who also will be a free agent in March.

Along with Verrett, the Chargers have four other corners on the roster signed for 2015 in Steve Williams, Chris Davis, Greg Ducre and Richard Crawford. The Chargers also worked out CFL standout cornerback Delvin Breaux this month.

"I thought Shareece made some strides from last year to this year," Telesco said. "And he got better. He's done a really nice job for us."

Although he would like to come back, the Southern California native wouldn't mind experiencing another part of the country.

"I'm open to anywhere," he said. "It would be different to get away and get out of California for once in my life. But who knows."
SAN DIEGO -- ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter is reporting that former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan will be hired as the next head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Ryan reportedly returned to Buffalo for a second interview this weekend, and final details of a contract are being negotiated on Sunday.

It’s an interesting turn events for the Bills, who interviewed 12 candidates for the position after Doug Marrone executed an escape clause in his contract that paid him $4 million to depart as the team’s head coach.

San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich was considered a front-runner for the Buffalo job, but new Bills owner Terry Pegula obviously wanted an experienced hand with some name recognition. He’ll get that in Ryan, who also has plenty of knowledge of the AFC East from his time with the Jets.

Speaking of the Jets, Reich interviewed for their vacant head-coaching job as well, but according to ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is considered the front-runner for that position. So Chargers general manager Tom Telesco may get his wish of Reich staying in San Diego.
SAN DIEGO -- After a nine-year career with the San Diego Chargers, offensive lineman Jeromey Clary announced his retirement on Thursday.

"San Diego is a great place to play, and I couldn't have asked for a better organization to play for," Clary said in a prepared statement. "All the coaches and all the players I was with, and the friendships I've built. ... I'm honored to have played for an organization like this. It means the world to me."

The Chargers selected Clary in the sixth round of the 2006 draft out of Kansas State. He started 93 of the 103 regular-season games, with the majority coming at right tackle before moving to guard in 2013.

From 2007-13, Clary missed only nine regular-season games. His teammates voted him the 2010 winner of the Ed Block Courage Award after he returned from a serious ankle injury to start all 16 games that season.

Clary did not play in 2014 because of two hip surgeries.

"If you asked what a great teammate looks like, I could just tell ya Jeromey Clary," said quarterback Philip Rivers. "His toughness, his fight and dependability on and off the field were top notch. I will miss playing with No. 66."
SAN DIEGO -- Coach Mike McCoy confirmed he would like to surround San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers with more playmakers to make his job easier next season.

"We have a special quarterback," McCoy said. "He's one of the best in the business. And to have Philip Rivers as the quarterback of our organization, we're very fortunate to have him. I'd love to get him as much talent as we can to help him win."

[+] EnlargeChase Daniel
Brian Davidson/Getty ImagesThe Chargers finished with just 26 sacks in 2014, which ranks 29th in the league.
Rivers played behind a makeshift offensive line a majority of the season. He finished the season without his top two running backs in Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, along with his top wide receiver Keenan Allen. Without those weapons, Rivers finished the season banged up with back and chest injuries.

The Chargers have 17 players expected to hit free agency in March, including Mathews, left tackle King Dunlap, outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, receiver Eddie Royal, cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Shareece Wright and pass-rusher Dwight Freeney.

McCoy said the Chargers have the foundation in place to compete for a Super Bowl, but under the direction of general manager Tom Telesco, the organization will have to figure out how to keep and add enough talent during the offseason to improve San Diego's chances of winning a championship.

"We've got a lot of work ahead of us to do whatever we can to be in better position in the future," McCoy said. "And I know Tom and myself will do everything with one thing in mind, and that is what helps us win here, and how do we become a better team moving forward."

Mathews was not available during locker room time open to reporters while players cleaned out their lockers on Monday.

The 27-year-old Fresno State product is scheduled to become a free agent, but played in only six games in 2014 due to an MCL sprain in his knee and a severely sprained ankle. However, McCoy acknowledged when Mathews was healthy the past two seasons, he's been productive.

"When he was in there, he did an outstanding job I think," McCoy said. "But unfortunately he got dinged a couple times in there. He's a very talented player. You'd love to have him in the backfield with you."

While the Chargers finished No. 4 in the NFL in pass defense, holding teams to just 214 passing yards a game, the Chargers still have to improve the pass rush. San Diego finished with just 26 sacks in 2014, No. 29 in the league. The Chargers have not had a double-digit pass-rusher since Antwan Barnes finished with 11 in 2011.

"We're going to work on that, without a doubt," McCoy said. "We've got to do a better job of getting after the quarterback. You talk about pass defense -- well, the best pass defense is a good pass rush. And then the best pass rush is good pass coverage. So they work hand in hand."

McCoy said the plan is for both offensive coordinator Frank Reich and defensive coordinator John Pagano to return next year.

A Bay Area native who grew up a San Francisco 49ers fan, McCoy also squashed any speculation about his possible interest in the vacant head coaching job in San Francisco.

"I'm very happy with where I'm at," McCoy said. "I love my job."
KANSAS CITY, Mo -- Every year, San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle states at the beginning of the season that his team has enough talent to win a Super Bowl.

“And everybody looks at me crazy, too,” Weddle joked.

Yes, the Chargers had a clear path to the postseason.

All they had to do was beat the Kansas City Chiefs -- a team playing with a backup quarterback and no realistic chance of making the playoffs.

But as Philip Rivers tells it, his team had been on life support for the last quarter of the season. The Chargers went into the final regular season game starting the team’s fifth different center, with an undrafted rookie free agent recently elevated from the practice squad making his first start at right guard.

The team’s top two playmakers on offense, running back Ryan Mathews (ankle) and receiver Keenan Allen (broken collarbone), watched from the sideline. Receiver Eddie Royal (concussion), safety Marcus Gilchrist (elbow) and cornerback Shareece Wright (concussion) sustained injuries that forced them to leave the field during the game.

“That’s what was in a lot of ways awesome about this stretch,” Rivers said. “You hate missing guys, but that’s what made it almost more special -- finding a way in San Francisco with all the moving parts, finding a way in Baltimore when we were shuffling centers.”

So should we really be surprised that the Chargers fell to the Chiefs 19-7 in a game that really wasn’t as close as the score indicates? Despite San Diego’s 9-7 record, this team still has several holes to fill in order to develop into a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Rivers isn’t one to make excuses, but even Mr. December played through tender ribs and a bulging disc in his back, helping to mask injury and depth issues on the rest of the roster down the backstretch of the season.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco will have another busy offseason addressing his team’s myriad needs.

The Chargers could use a durable, dependable, every-down back that can run between the tackles. They need more talent and experienced depth at interior offensive line.

Defensively, the Chargers have to secure more physical, athletic bodies at all three levels.

“We’ve been through that a lot over the years,” Weddle said. “Every team deals with it, so it’s not an excuse. You just hope one year we can somehow find a way to have the majority of your guys in there at key positions, so you can give yourself a fighting chance. Maybe it caught up to us.”

Of course, Father Time is not on the side of this veteran team. Rivers, Weddle, Antonio Gates, Dwight Freeney, Malcom Floyd and Jarret Johnson are closer to the end of their respective careers than the beginning. Telesco needs to quickly add young talent in order to take advantage of the short window that remains in the careers of some of the more talented players on the roster.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Chargers are tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the second-oldest roster in the NFL, with 11 players over 30 years old and an average age of 27.3.

“You just never know when it’s your last game, and when things are going to change,” Gates said. “I try to control what I control -- my attitude, my effort and my passion for the game. That’s all I can kind of worry about at this point.”

The Chargers expected to build on a surprising playoff run last season by reaching the postseason for a second straight year. Instead, the team’s season ended at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chargers were swept by the Denver Broncos and the Chiefs, finishing 2-4 against the AFC West. San Diego finished 3-6 against teams with winning records. And this team, built with an offensive mindset, scored one lonely touchdown in the first quarter of team’s last four contests, leaving the defense to shoulder the load early in games.

“It’s very frustrating,” defensive lineman Corey Liuget said, when asked about his San Diego not taking care of business against Kansas City. “It’s sickening. We’ve got to regroup, and let the owner and the GM do what they need to do to get us a team back. We’ve got to get some guys in there to help us get on the road to winning, and pursuing a championship.”

Added Weddle: “The mentality, the focus is there. We just all need to get better, and to add some pieces. That’s what management is going to do. Hopefully, I’ll be around and we’ll get ready to roll. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t get it done today.”
SAN DIEGO -- Observed and heard in the San Diego Chargers' locker room after the team’s 19-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs:

Players properly motivated: Asked about his team's falling behind double digits for a second straight week with a postseason berth on the line, Chargers coach Mike McCoy said motivation was not an issue.

“We’re not questioning the heart of our football team,” McCoy said. “We played our tails off. We worked extremely hard. Sometimes you don’t execute as well as you want. But this team gave it all that they’ve got -- 60 minutes for 17 weeks. I can promise you that. It’s not a lack of urgency at all -- no chance.”

Execution still an issue: Well, if we take McCoy at his word, then you have to focus on San Diego’s lack of execution in critical stretches of the game. Specifically, McCoy again showed his conservative side in choosing to attempt a 52-yard field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-8 from Kansas City’s 34-yard line when down 19-7 with 31 seconds left in the third quarter.

“There was no doubt,” McCoy said. "[Special-teams coordinator Kevin Spencer] had no doubt in his mind. And I have all the confidence in him. But he missed it. He had plenty of length. It wasn’t an issue of the wind. He just missed it left. And so I had all the confidence, and I said that all year long. And we still have other possessions. So if we get that, who knows what happens.”

Nick Novak pulled the kick wide left.

Down by the same score with four minutes remaining, offensive coordinator Frank Reich called runs up the middle with Donald Brown on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 from Kansas City’s 20-yard line. Brown was stoned twice by Kansas City’s defense for no gain, and the Chargers turned it over on downs. Brown averaged 2.5 yards per carry this season. Rookie Branden Oliver rushed for 71 yards on the day but wasn’t in the game for either play.

“On fourth-and-1, you’re usually running,” Philip Rivers said. “It’s not one where you take a shot. It was fourth-and-a small one. It’s always easy after the fact. If you throw it there and get a ball batted down, then you’re like, ‘It’s fourth-and-1, hand the ball off.’ Those are all what-ifs. We’ve called the play on a handful of second-and-1s, third-and-1s that we had throughout the game and got it every time.”

Injury update: Safety Marcus Gilchrist (elbow), receiver Eddie Royal (concussion) and cornerback Shareece Wright (concussion) suffered injuries during the game and did not return. Safety Jahleel Addae (concussion) and right tackle D.J. Fluker (knee) suffered injuries during the game but returned to the field.

Rapid Reaction: San Diego Chargers

December, 28, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few thoughts on the San Diego Chargers' 19-7 loss Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs in the regular-season finale at Arrowhead Stadium:

What it means: The Chargers needed a win in order to punch the team's postseason ticket for a second straight season. Instead, San Diego put forth a lackluster effort against a team led by a backup quarterback in Kansas City's Chase Daniel. With a win over the Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens earned the final AFC wild-card seed by finishing 10-6.

Rivers limps to finish: Impressive most of the year, Philip Rivers struggled in his final regular-season game of 2014. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Rivers was just 4-of-7 with an interception and three sacks in the opening half -- his lowest completion total in the first half of a game since Week 10 of 2011 (a 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders). In all, Rivers was sacked seven times, finishing 20-of-34 for 291 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Rivers also lost a fumble.

Stock watch: Down: Chargers coach Mike McCoy. The Chargers, who trailed by 21 points against the San Francisco 49ers last week, fell behind again by double digits at halftime. This time, it was to a Kansas City team playing with a backup quarterback. Along with conservative and sometimes head-scratching play calls offensively, San Diego failed to play with the urgency needed to reach the postseason. That falls on the coach.

Gates makes mark: Antonio Gates became the fourth tight end in NFL history with 10,000 receiving yards, joining Tony Gonzalez (15,127), Jason Witten (10,453) and Shannon Sharpe (10,060). Gates finished with four catches for 67 yards, and now has 10,014 in his career.

Game ball: While Rivers was not at his best Sunday, he certainly was the team MVP this season. Rivers topped 4,000 yards passing for the sixth time in his career (4,286). Since 2006, Rivers is 17-3 on the road as a starter in December and January, the best road winning percentage over that time frame. And in season finales on the road, Rivers is 8-1. Rivers finished with 31 touchdowns on the season, three shy of a career high of 34 established in 2008.

What's next: The Chargers finish 2014 with a 9-7 record, good enough for third place in the AFC West.

W2W4: San Diego Chargers

December, 28, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The San Diego Chargers (9-6) take on the Kansas City Chiefs (8-7) in the team’s final regular-season game at 1 p.m. ET Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, needing a win to advance to the postseason for a second straight year.

Here are three things we’ll be watching for on Sunday with the Chargers.

1. Bottle up Jamaal Charles: Kansas City’s electric running back is questionable heading into Sunday’s contest with hamstring and ankle injuries. However, Charles is expected to play against San Diego, and he needs just 21 rushing yards to finish with 1,000 rushing yards in a season for the fifth time in his career. Charles rushed for 95 yards in a 23-20 win over the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium earlier this season. San Diego’s defense gave up an astounding 355 rushing yards against the San Francisco 49ers last week, yet the Chargers still managed to win in overtime. With Kansas City starting backup Chase Daniel at quarterback, the Chiefs will likely lean on Charles to carry the offense. The Chargers need to do a much better job of tackling this week.

2. Protect Philip Rivers: The Chiefs are tied for seventh in the NFL with 39 sacks. Justin Houston (18) and Tamba Hali (6) have combined for 24 sacks this season. Rivers was sacked twice and pressured another three times in the first matchup between these two teams. Rivers is playing with back and chest injuries, and the Chargers likely will start the team’s fifth center this season in Trevor Robinson and an undrafted rookie at right guard in Jeremiah Sirles. With no Ryan Mathews or Keenan Allen, offensive coordinator Frank Reich has to do a great job of devising protection schemes so Rivers can consistently move the chains.

3. It’s all about the ball: The Chiefs have a minus-6 turnover differential, which is tied for No. 22 in the NFL. Kansas City is 2-5 in games in which the team has lost the turnover battle. The Chiefs have turned the ball over seven times in the last four games, losing three of those four contests. San Diego’s defense has forced five turnovers in the last three games. Winning the turnover battle on the road in a game where field position will be critical should go a long way toward San Diego earning a victory Sunday.

Philip Rivers earns AFC weekly honor

December, 24, 2014
SAN DIEGO – Leading his team to a comeback victory on the road against the San Francisco 49ers helped San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers earn this week’s AFC Offensive Player of the Week Award, the league announced Wednesday.

Rivers completed 33 of 54 passes for 356 yards, with four touchdowns and three interceptions. With San Diego trailing by 21 points in the second half, Rivers was particularly effective, finishing with 273 yards and three touchdowns in the second half and overtime. Rivers was 5 of 5 for two touchdowns in passes to Antonio Gates after halftime.

Chargers control postseason destiny

December, 21, 2014
SAN DIEGO – Win and they are in.

The San Diego Chargers continued to receive good news after a dramatic come-from-behind victory against the San Francisco 49ers Saturday evening.

At 9-6, the Chargers are now tied with the Baltimore Ravens (9-6), who lost on Sunday to the Houston Texans. The Kansas City Chiefs (8-7) also lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5), which means all the Chargers need is a victory at Kansas City next Sunday to clinch the team’s second straight appearance in the postseason. The Steelers clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Chiefs.

San Diego is currently the No. 6 seed in the AFC wild-card race. The Chargers are 6-4 at Kansas City since 2004.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- One player was a CFL standout who grinded to make the back end of the roster in August. The other rejoined the team two months ago as experienced depth at a position of need.

Receiver Dontrelle Inman and running back Ronnie Brown were unlikely contributors who made critical plays in Saturday's 38-35 comeback, overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers that gave the San Diego Chargers a chance to continue chasing postseason dreams with just a week left in the regular season.

Inman, 25, was active for just the sixth time this season due to Keenan Allen being out with a broken collarbone. Inman’s work ethic has been noted in the past. He’s usually the last one to leave the practice field during the week, getting in extra work with Eddie Royal on pass routes and catches on the JUGS machine. That work paid off Saturday.

After seeing minimal playing time early on, Inman was placed in the starting lineup to open the second half. And he responded with seven catches for 79 yards. The most critical catch came on a curl route on fourth-and-10 from San Francisco’s 26-yard line with less than a minute left in regulation for a 17-yard gain. The play set up Malcom Floyd's 11-yard touchdown catch that tied the game at 35-all, sending the contest into overtime.

“You never knew when he was going to get an opportunity to play,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said. “But he’s a guy every day that shows up and works his tail off, and it paid off.”

Added Inman: “It’s awesome to have a Hall of Fame quarterback trusting you. You can’t ask for anything better.”

Brown rejoined the Chargers in October as added depth with Ryan Mathews out because of a knee injury. Needing someone to grind out yards to close out the game Saturday night, the 33-year-old runner finished with 33 yards on seven carries, including 22 on the final drive of the game to put the Chargers in field goal position for Nick Novak's 40-yarder for the win.

“He just leads in there,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said about Brown. “He does his scout team work and just says, ‘When y’all need me, I’ll be there.’ And he had two big catches on the drive for the touchdown, and then he obviously closed the game out the way he ran the ball.”

Brown said he was just fulfilling his role on this football team Saturday.

“It’s a game of opportunities,” Brown said. “When your number is called, you want to go out and do whatever you can do to try and make the team better in whatever your role is, and try to do it to the best of your ability. I try and keep that mindset. And that’s the character of this football team.”