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Jay Paris: Chargers head for San Francisco, looking to avoid a summer rerun

The Chargers head for Levi’s Stadium, set to hitch their britches and get back to work.

The 49ers are next on the squad’s summer preseason tour, one which took an unsightly turn in last week’s shellacking in Seattle.

“We got worn out by a good team,’’ quarterback Philip Rivers said.

If Rivers was more salty, his description might have included the Chargers getting their backside spanked.

But Rivers isn’t one to use questionable language, even after the Chargers laid a considerable egg.

But no matter how you scramble it, what does a preseason debacle mean?

For a historical perspective, consider this:

In 1994, the Chargers’ lone Super Bowl campaign, they went 1-4 after opening with four straight preseason losses.

In 2000, the Chargers only 1-15 year, they went 4-0 in the preseason, which preceded christening the regular season with 11 consecutive losses.

So the Chargers got embarrassed, 41-14, by the Seahawks last week.

It could mean everything and nothing at all

“It was not the first time we lost in preseason and not played great collectively,’’ Rivers said. “But no one is overreacting, we’re still 0-0. We don’t need to go too crazy in either direction.’’

But the Chargers went nuts in the offseason to slap jumper cables on their dead defense. General manager Tom Telesco spent considerable effort to fix the side of the ball that other teams picked on.

The Chargers’ pass defense was ranked No. 29, and when there are only 32 teams, that’s not good.

So Telesco rolled up his sleeves and attacked the Chargers’ biggest weakness.

He dumped free-agent Derek Cox, a bust at cornerback, and exercised his first-round pick on cornerback Jason Verrett.

He invited back veteran linebacker Dwight Freeney, hoping his 5.5 sacks the past two years wasn’t a sign his gas tank gauge is blinking on empty.

He kept drafting defense in snagging linebacker Jerry Attaochu in the second round and tackle Ryan Carrethers in the fifth.

Then Telesco acquired free-agent cornerback Brandon Flowers after the Chiefs deemed him expendable.

That’s a lot of moving parts and wouldn’t it be swell if they all moved in the same direction?

Not so in Seattle, as the Seahawks hoodwinked the defense on which way they were going and how they were getting there.

The Chargers took bad angles, had busted coverages and tackled as if wrestling greased pigs.

It was ugly as the Chargers were dominated by a bunch that looked every bit like the Super Bowl champs.

But to be fair, Freeney didn’t play and Verrett was idle. Injuries hit the line and at linebacker, which had youngsters playing more than expected.

But to be accurate, it’s clear the Chargers have much work to do to get right by Sept. 8. That’s the season-opener at Arizona, and yes, it’s coming fast.

That’s why Sunday’s preseason game is just that, but so much more.

The Chargers need to show something in the preseason contest in which the starters go the longest. It’s the one summer tilt that reveals just what your team does, or doesn’t have.

The Chargers did have a heaping helping of humble pie in Seattle. But everyone gets demolished occasionally — it’s how one rebounds.

“We didn’t go in with a plan of getting worn out and it will help us,’’ said Rivers, who played but one series in Seattle. “But when it happens, if you respond the right way, it certainly can help you as far as how we handle it.’’

The chatter this week, the first after training camp, was that the Chargers had moved on. That’s correct, but they do so with a scar or two from their Pacific Northwest visit.

No one’s panicking, but no one is booking Super Bowl rooms, either.

“Good or bad, you got to stay even keel, especially in the preseason,’’ Rivers said. “I’ve seen teams light it up in the preseason and not do so well in the regular season, and vice versa.’’

So have we: 1994 and 2000. Good luck predicting what 2014 will bring.


Contact Jay Paris at [email protected].  Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports