CJ Beathard will have to learn how to get down and protect himself if he's going to stick in the NFL. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

CJ Beathard will have to learn how to get down and protect himself if he's going to stick in the NFL. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

49ers backups better than Chargers reserves

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers submitted their best performance at Levi’s Stadium since Week 1 of last season on Thursday. They dismantled the Los Angeles Chargers, 23-13.

It was the fourth and final preseason game, meaning the Niners have the better second unit.

Two developments from the game that promise to have a lasting impact:

Bolden could stick

For the second time this preseason, Victor Bolden Jr. took a return to the house. He also made a strong-handed catch on the sideline, showing he might have the talent to transcend being pigeon-holed as a special teamer.

Bolden is an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State. Typically, it’s a tough path to an NFL roster for players who aren’t selected on draft day, but one solid way of getting noticed is flashing natural abilities that can’t be denied.

Bolden has accomplished that, and it might cost someone like Jeremy Kerley — who has a similar skill set and carries a significantly higher cap hit — his spot.

Beathard takes a beating

Backup quarterback CJ Beathard had the play of the game, scampering 62 yards for a rushing touchdown. But when he plunged into the end zone, he didn’t do much celebrating. Instead, he lay on the ground in the fetal position for a few seconds and then labored off the field.

It was a solid outing for Beathard, but he did take two sacks that were administered harshly. He also dove head-first after scrambles too many times to be considered for the rigors of the pro game.

The former Iowa Hawkeye has shown promise, but he’s still got a lot to learn.

Contact Examiner Sports Editor Jacob C. Palmer at jpalmer@sfexaminer.com or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.

john lynchkyle shanahanSan Francisco 49ers

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