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Manny Lawson heads upfield after an interception in the second quarter.
SAN FRANCISCO — The exhibition games are over. The final roster decisions are about to be made.

And for whatever it's worth, the San Francisco 49ers' first-team offense was not exactly the picture of efficiency in Friday night's 23-14 victory over the San Diego Chargers before perhaps 25,000 fans at Monster Park.

Alex Smith completed only 1 of 4 passes. One of the incomplete passes was a drop by wide-open rookie tight end Vernon Davis. Running back Maurice Hicks, starting for the resting Frank Gore, lost a fumble, setting up the Chargers' opening touchdown.

"I would have liked to have seen us get something going better than we did," coach Mike Nolan said. "Certainly it's a concern."

Smith said, "Our focus is next week. Tonight we wanted to keep our game speed going and get ready for next week."

The 49ers have eight days to prepare for their regular-season opener on Sept. 10 at Arizona.

But there is a more immediate concern. By 1 this afternoon, the 49ers must release 22 of their 75 players to reach the regular-season roster limit of 53.

It is very possible that more than 22 of the current players will be gone before the start of the season. Nolan and personnel chief Scot McCloughan will be scouring the waiver wire starting today, searching for gems among other teams' castoffs.

As for Friday's game, it was a night for the draft choices. Running back Michael Robinson, linebacker Manny Lawson, cornerback Marcus Hudson, tight end Delanie Walker and receiver Brandon Williams all had their moments.


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"It's what you want to see your draft picks do," Nolan said.

Robinson, Lawson and Hudson stood out in particular. Robinson carried 12 times for 59 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 14 yards. On his second touchdown, he bulled straight up the middle, refusing to be tackled until he was sprawling into the end zone. Asked about his running style, Robinson said, "Let me fall forward and make positive yards."

Nolan said Robinson has not moved ahead of No.2 back Hicks, but the coach was pleased nonetheless.

"He ran very strong, kept his feet moving, broke tackles," Nolan said. "He's a very determined runner."

Lawson recorded an interception, and thought he had returned it for a touchdown, but was ruled down on the play. He also hit quarterback Charlie Whitehurst's arm on a deep pass, contributing to an interception by free safety Mike Adams.

"I'm understanding what my role is," Lawson said.

The first-round pick from North Carolina State said the defense was determined to improve upon its poor performances the previous two games.

"It's a huge morale boost not just for myself but the team," he said.

Lawson's college teammate, Hudson, recorded two interceptions, Williams had a 26-yard punt return, and Walker had a 30-yard kickoff return after a handoff from Robinson, and ended the play by attempting to leap over Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding.

Among the other significant developments:

-Third-year punter Andy Lee, locked in a tight battle with veteran Tom Rouen, landed a 30-yard punt at the Chargers' 4 and also boomed a 49-yard punt from the 49ers' end zone. Rouen punted only once, a 29-yarder to the Chargers' 18.

"(Lee) certainly helped himself," Nolan said.

-Of the receivers competing for jobs, Taylor Jacobs had the best night, catching five passes for 66 yards.

-Though he had a hand in Adams' interception, Sammy Davis also struggled on a couple of plays. Davis has been starting in the absence of Shawntae Spencer, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury but is expected back for the opener.

-Third-string quarterback Shaun Hill completed 8 of 14 passes for 86 yards but also threw an interception returned for a touchdown.

San Diego7070—14San Francisco01760—23First Quarter

SD—Floyd 5 pass from Whitehurst (Kaeding kick), 4:26.

Second Quarter

SF—Robinson 1 run (Nedney kick), 5:28.

SF—Robinson 13 run (Nedney kick), 4:12.

SF—FG Nedney 34, :00.

Third Quarter

SF—FG Nedney 20, 9:42. 

SD—Gordon 85 interception return (Kaeding kick), 7:14.

SF—FG Nedney 20, 3:15.

A—66,946.

SDSFFirst downs1222Total Net Yards200296Rushes-yards25-10239-141Passing98155Punt Returns3-102-26Kickoff Returns3-702-54Interceptions Ret.1-854-19Comp-Att-Int10-19-416-27-1Sacked-Yards Lost0-02-6Punts3-46.04-37.0Fumbles-Lost1-11-1Penalties-Yards9-505-22Time of Possession24:4435:16

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—San Diego, Gross 10-61, Pinnock 5-19, Perkins 5-16, Croom 5-6. San Francisco, Robinson 12-59, Keasey 14-53, Hicks 7-12, Hill 4-12, A.Smith 2-5.

PASSING—San Diego, Whitehurst 5-9-2-52, Elliott 5-10-2-46. San Francisco, A.Smith 1-4-0-11, Dilfer 7-9-0-64, Hill 8-14-1-86.

RECEIVING—San Diego, Floyd 4-44, Evans 3-23, Gross 1-22, Croom 1-8, Krause 1-1. San Francisco, Jacobs 5-66, Robinson 3-14, Marshall 2-36, Hicks 2-15, Norris 2-9, B.Williams 1-14, Walker 1-7.

MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.