Chargers Rookie Cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. Shines Against 49ers

The rookie cornerback is showing more positives as time passes.
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There have been many conversations about whether second-round draft pick Asante Samuel Jr. has done enough to earn the second cornerback spot. On Friday, Brandon Staley said that it was an open competition.

During the Chargers 15-10 loss to the 49ers, Samuel might have separated himself from Brandon Facyson.

On the opening drive by the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo took his team down the field on a 14-play drive. In the 15th play, Samuel had been beaten off the snap by 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk. When Garoppolo threw the pass, it was popped up by Aiyuk and intercepted by a recovering Samuel. His first of the preseason.

"It was really excited, but I just want to make enough plays for my team to win, so we didn't win, so it wasn't enough," said Samuel.

Even though it was a nice interception, it felt like he was trailing on the play.

“They've actually shown that route that's a pretty standard third down route for that team,” said Staley. “They kind of have a wide departure, and then they bring it back in. So, we would have liked to see more connected on that route.”

He celebrated by running to the endzone and took off his helmet, which drew a penalty flag. He thought that he wouldn't get flagged for it because he was out of the end zone.

"It won't happen again," said Samuel adding it was a rookie mistake.

The rookie corner only played a couple of more snaps until his night was over.

"I just want to go against the best, so I can compete against the best so I can turn myself up and get better every day," said Samuel.

Does the rookie feel that he has separated himself?

"It is still a competition to me," said the rookie cornerback. "I really haven't done anything. That pick (interception) was nothing, so I'm just going to keep my head down and keep grinding, but I just want to get better and whatever the team wants me to do. That's what I'm going to do."

This is actually his second interception of Garoppolo. Samuel got him on Thursday during the joint practice for one.

Two drives after the Samuel pick, Trey Lance was in at quarterback, and when the former Bison is in, there is excitement. He had an 80-yard throw in his first preseason game last weekend. The game against the Chargers started a little rougher.

He threw a pass on third down to Mohamed Sanu Sr. on his second drive, which was popped up and intercepted by Tevaughn Campbell. The former CFL cornerback is trying to make the squad for the second straight season. He also gave up a 16-yard touchdown reception to former Chargers receiver Travis Benjamin.

"He competed well at times," said Staley. "He was connected for the most part, especially on a couple of tough routes. He got beat on the touchdown. We just have to do a better job of helping him. It's kind of like deny the ball down in distance third and four. We could have specialed the slot there to help him out, but he's doing well."

Pass rusher battle

Another positional battle taking place is that between Kyler Fackrell and Uchenna Nwosu. Both players have been rotating during training camp.

On Sunday, it seems like Fackrell may have separated himself a bit from Nwosu. The veteran pass rusher was getting consistent pressure on both Garoppolo and Lance. Late in the second quarter, Lance moved to his left faced pressure by Cortez Broughton but missed and cleaned up by Fackrell for a sack.

"Kyler [Fackrell] just got a sack," said Joey Bosa to the local television interview. "He's been rushing great all game. Of course, on the one that he was covering, he gets the sack on. He's been beating his guy all game. They've been doing a great job. Two picks, as well. It's been awesome."

Nwosu had a little quieter night but managed to get three tackles while Fackrell finished with two tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss.

So, how does Bosa feel like the competition is going?

"Kyler [Fackrell] and [OLB] Uchenna [Nwosu] both have been doing a great job," said Bosa.

Quarterback two battle

Both Chargers quarterbacks faced a lot of pressure at numerous times of the game. Easton Stick started the game, and it took him a while to warm up. After the Campbell interception, Stick took the offense to the 49ers three-yard line. He rolled out to his right and waited for the pressure to reach him to make a last second touchdown throw to rookie Josh Palmer.

"That was just a really good job by Josh (Palmer) staying alive," said Stick. "Josh Kelly was working the frontline. Josh kind of had the backline there. They kind of got us there, but credit to the guys for just finding a way and making a play."

He later hit receiver Jalen Guyton for a 39-yard pass, which led to a field goal. He finished 10/14 for 85 yards and one touchdown.

Chase Daniel came in the second half and had a rough go of it. His first two drives ended in punts. In his third, he threw into double coverage Jared Mayden intercepted him. Daniel worked with the same thing Stick had to against the Rams. He finished 14/21 for 60 yards and one interception.

"It's been a really good competition between those two, I thought both of them did a nice job tonight," said Staley.

Staley said that both quarterbacks will face Seattle next Saturday, and then they will make their decision.

"We're going to take it all the way to the end," said Staley.

Quick note

· It seems like Stick and Daniel had constant pressure tonight when asked how Storm Norton and Trey Pipkins performed Brandon Staley said, “Those two guys got a really accurate picture of where they’re at.”