| August 22, 2021, 11:12 PM

August 22, 2021, 11:12 PM

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Trey Lance threw two touchdown passes and continued to make his case to be San Francisco’s Week 1 starter as the 49ers rallied for a 15-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night.

Lance, the third overall pick in April’s draft, had a rough start. He completed only one of his first six passes and was picked off in his first three series before settling down. Lance was 7 of 8 for 93 yards on his final three drives, which included the two TDs.

Lance, who finished 8 of 14 for 102 yards, also won the duel of former North Dakota State quarterbacks. Easton Stick, who mentored Lance in 2018 when the Bison won their seventh FCS title in eight years, got the start for the Chargers and was 10 of 14 for 85 yards and a touchdown.

Stick was sacked for a safety early in the second quarter by San Francisco’s Jordan Willis, giving the Niners a 2-0 lead. Willis — who is ineligible for the first six games due to a violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy — got leverage on Chargers offensive tackle Trey Pipkins, forcing him into the end zone before tackling Stick.

San Francisco got the ball back, but Tevaughn Campbell picked off Lance’s pass intended for Mohamed Sanu in Niners’ territory and returned it to the San Francisco 25. After an illegal blindside block penalty moved the ball back, Stick directed a seven-play, 40-yard drive, culminating when he scrambled near the right sideline while being pursued by three defenders and lofted a 3-yard pass to a wide open Josh Palmer in the back of the end zone.

Michael Badgley’s 50-yard field goal extended the Chargers’ advantage to 10-2 before the Niners rallied. San Francisco took over at its 25 with 57 seconds remaining in the first half as Lance directed a late TD drive. Trent Sherfield took advantage of a breakdown in coverage and a missed tackle by Mark Webb Jr. for a 41-yard reception to the Chargers 13 with 21 seconds remaining.

Two plays later, Lance connected with Sanu for a 5-yard touchdown pass, bringing San Francisco within 10-8 with 12 seconds remaining. Lance ran it in for the two-point conversion, but it was called back due to a holding penalty. Robbie Gould then missed the point-after attempt, hitting the right upright.

The teams traded punts on their opening possessions of the second half before the Niners took the lead on an 11-play drive, which concluded when Lance found former Charger Travis Benjamin for a 16-yard TD. Lance was 3 of 4 for 35 yards on the drive and had a nine-yard scramble for a first down.

Jimmy Garoppolo started and played only one series for the Niners. Garoppolo was 3 of 6 for 15 yards during the 15-play possession, which ended when his pass intended for Brandon Aiyuk went off Aiyuk’s hands and was intercepted by Asante Samuel Jr. at the Chargers’ 15.

Los Angeles had the ball at their 21 with 41 seconds remaining, but Chase Daniel was sacked on the first play of the drive, derailing any hopes. Daniel played the second half and completed 14 of 21 passes for 60 yards and an interception.


Samuel Jr., who was selected in the second round of this year’s draft, was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he took off his helmet in the end zone while celebrating after his interception.


The Chargers’ first game in front of fans at their Inglewood home drew 68,327. The stadium, which the Chargers share with the Rams, opened last year, but both teams played to an empty house due to the coronavirus pandemic.


San Francisco defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (ankle) and linebacker Mychal Kendricks (toe) suffered injuries during the first quarter and did not return.


49ers: Return home to host the Las Vegas Raiders in their preseason finale next Sunday.

Chargers: Wrap up the preseason on Saturday at the Seattle Seahawks.

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