SAN DIEGO -- A game that meant nothing in the big picture still served up an important lesson to the San Diego Chargers.
"As long as you keep the self-inflicted wounds to a minimum and play turnover-free, you have a chance to win," coach Marty Schottenheimer said after the Chargers won 24-3 Friday night over the bumbling, banged up San Francisco 49ers.
If 49ers played a regular-season game like this, they'd be in big trouble.
They practically served up a free pass on San Diego's opening drive, and rookie Drayton Florence returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
The 49ers (3-1) were penalized six times for 88 yards in the first 4:30, eight times for 108 yards in the first half and 11 times overall for 139 yards.
"We were in the game, but we had penalties that we haven't had all preseason," coach Dennis Erickson said. "That was a little disheartening."
San Diego's two biggest stars, LaDainian Tomlinson and David Boston, didn't play, and quarterback Drew Brees was in for just one series. Jeff Garcia, San Francisco's three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, also played just one series.
On the next play, Dorsey was flushed from the pocket and hit from behind by defensive end Omari Hand as he threw the ball. Florence picked off the wobbler, evaded one tackler, broke a tackle, hit open field at about the 30 and was gone.
"I'm just trying to do what I've been coached to do, and that's being in the right place at the right time to make plays," Florence said. "I happened to get a floater and I took it the distance. It looks good on me, but it was the whole defense that helped out right there."
Said Dorsey: "You hate to do that. I just have to protect the football."
San Diego rookie Andrew Pinnock scored on a 14-yard run with 11:11 left.
Brees led the Chargers to a touchdown less than two minutes into the game, then took a seat.
It was the first time in four exhibitions that the Chargers (2-2) scored on their first drive. Second-string fullback Joey Goodspeed scored on a 1-yard run to cap a drive during which the Niners committed three penalties for 58 yards, two of them pass interference calls.
Fullback Fred Beasley was ejected after being called for unnecessary roughness on San Francisco's first series.
Garcia, who's led the 49ers to two straight playoff appearances, played just one series before making way for backup Tim Rattay, who signed a $4.8 million, three-year contract extension before the game.
Rookie safety Terrence Kiel made his first appearance for the Chargers, who've missed the playoffs for seven straight seasons. He was shot three times during an attempted carjacking in Houston on July 4.
San Diego's Steve Christie kicked a 25-yard field goal in the first quarter and missed a 44-yard try just before halftime. San Francisco's Jeff Chandler kicked a 23-yarder in the second.
"We had to do some different things defensively to finish the game, basically," Erickson said.
The Associated Press News Service
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