Chargers, sans stars, beat Niners 26-7

SAN DIEGO (AP) - There was a good reason why all of San Diego's offensive stars watched the exhibition finale from the sideline.

Coach Norv Turner wanted to make sure they stayed healthy heading into the regular season.

The Chargers beat the San Francisco 49ers 26-7 on Friday night, then looked forward to a fast start to the regular season, which they didn't have last year in part due to injuries to key players.

"We came into preseason healthy," Turner said. "A year ago at this time, we had four or five guys who still weren't going to be able to play for a month. We're healthy. I think there is a great sense of excitement among our players. I think this team is getting themselves ready to have a great season."

This one was notable for which Chargers didn't play - quarterback Philip Rivers, tight end Antonio Gates, running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, and wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers.

Chargers inside linebacker Kevin Burnett sustained a stinger less than five minutes into the game and didn't return. Turner said Burnett was all right.

Burnett was in good spirits but refused to divulge specifics.

"We don't talk about injuries. See you on Monday night. That's all I've got to say," he said.

The Chargers, aiming for their fourth straight AFC West title, open at Oakland a week from Monday night. The 49ers open at Arizona a week from Sunday.

Turner called for an onside kick to open the game, with Antoine Cason recovering. That set up a 39-yard touchdown pass from Billy Volek to Kassim Osgood.

"It's something we may need in a game," Turner said. "It's something you've got to practice. I would hate for a critical situation to be the first time we did it in the regular season. We got a chance to work on it."

Volek didn't take a snap last season. He hasn't played in a real game since replacing the injured Rivers and scoring the winning touchdown on a 1-yard sneak in a 28-24 upset win at Indianapolis in a divisional-round playoff game in January 2008.

Osgood would like to be a receiver but has caught only four passes the last four seasons. He's better known as a special teams ace, earning two trips to the Pro Bowl.

Burnett was hurt when he was spun around by a blocker and then hit from behind by running back Glen Coffee, which knocked him into tight end Vernon Davis and pushed his head back.

Burnett was down for several minutes before getting up and walking off the field. He then headed to the locker room with a trainer.

San Francisco starting quarterback Shaun Hill was in for just the opening series.

Hill was hit pretty good by Chargers outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, who's coming back from knee surgery that cost him all but the season opener in 2008.

"We started moving the ball there in the first quarter," Hill said. "I took a good shot. Actually I felt pretty good. I think obviously we would have liked to come away with some points on that drive but we were able to move the ball a little bit."

San Francisco's Jason Hill caught a 21-yard pass from third-string quarterback Nate Davis in the second quarter.

San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding got a good workout, with field goals of 36, 47, 51 and 28 yards.

San Diego third-stringer Charlie Whitehurst threw a 15-yard TD pass to rookie tight end Kory Sperry in the closing minutes.

49ers WR Dominique Zeigler injured an ankle. He'll have X-rays and possibly an MRI.

"The biggest thing we wanted to accomplish tonight is not getting anybody injured," San Francisco coach Mike Singletary said. "For the most part we came through with the exception of Zeigler."

NOTES: San Diego's Gartrell Johnson gained 85 yards on 20 carries and Michael had 30 yards on eight carries. ... San Francisco rookie LB Diyral Briggs had a stinger.


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