SAN DIEGO -- Two memories from the San Diego Chargers' preseason trip to the San Francisco Bay Area: a 6.0 earthquake which awoke the players Sunday morning and a blast of air coming from Levi's Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The earthquake was centered in Napa, Calif.

The air was felt in San Diego.

The Chargers exhaled on Sunday, after playing well in a 21-7 loss to the 49ers.

As usual, the final score of a preseason game means little. As usual, how the first units performed means everything.

Entering the 49ers game, the Chargers were bewildered. They had their doors blown off in Seattle, by a Seahawks team which seems hell-bent on destroying everyone this summer.

The shellacking it gave the Chargers was a bit of an eye-opener. Not that the Chargers think they are quite in the Seahawks' class, but they at least thought they would be competitive before being dismantled, 41-14.

So that made Sunday a rebound game. And the Chargers bounced back in a way that removed the red faces from the previous game with a belief the Chargers are again on the right track.

"I never like to make too much of the preseason, or too little of it, but there is a value there,'' quarterback Philip Rivers said of the games that don't count "It was a rhythm where we were able to get first downs.''

Rivers was Rivers, missing on but one of 10 passes for 85 yards and a score.

"Statistically, I don't think it means much in the preseason, but it is more about the communication, the rhythm and the little things,'' he said. "It is more about ironing out the kinks and I believe we had done that thus far.''

The offense played three series, and while there was a fourth-down that wasn't converted, overall it was three series well-played.

None of the starters are expected to play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Arizona Cardinals. But enough has been done leading up to it -- Rivers was 15 for 18 in the summer; Johnnie Troutman won the right guard spot -- that the team is getting its mojo back in time for the opener.

The defense played better as well, although the injuries continue to mount along the line. The game featured the summer debuts of outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and first-round pick cornerback Jason Verrett, two guys brought along slowly because of injuries.

There's still much work to be done. But the Chargers return to the practice field this week knowing summer is almost over and the Seattle shocker was more of an aberration than the start of a trend.

"It was a point of emphasis to go out, have fun and get back to realizing this game is the most fun game in the world,'' safety Eric Weddle said. "Our energy and excitement were up and we played like it.''

The Chargers didn't quite make the earth move -- Mother Nature handle that. But they moved forward on Sunday after take a step back the previous game.

"I like where we are as a football team,'' Chargers coach Mike McCoy said.

-- The Chargers released 11 players on Monday. Among those released was tackle Nick Becton, who played one game with the Chargers last year. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Joe Kruger was claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles. Kruger was a seventh-round pick in 2013 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve and is the younger brother of Cleveland Browns linebacker Paul Kruger.

-- Cornerback Jason Verrett, the team's first-round draft pick, saw his first action of the preseason against the 49ers. Verrett, who is rebounding from offseason shoulder surgery, played on the outside, with Brandon Flowers moving inside.

-- Defensive end Corey Liuget was impressive on Sunday, making plays all over the field as he disrupted the 49ers on various level. Liuget had a four tackles, a sack which caused a fumble, a pass defensed and two tackles for a loss.

"We were motivated as a team and as a defense more than anything,'' Liuget said. "We always had the confidence, but it definitely hopes us understand that, 'Hey, we are a pretty good defense and let's continue to build on what we just did.'''

-- Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney saw his first game action against the 49ers since leaving the field last fall with a torn quad.

"It felt good,'' he said. "I hadn't been out there since September. So for me, it's good to go out there and feel how the body is against the other color. Hitting the same door is one thing, but to go out there and play against a red jersey or whatever it is, it feels great.''

-- Defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers, a fifth-round pick, picked up some additional snaps with Kwame Geathers leaving the 49ers game with a knee injury. "I think it went well,'' said Carrethers, who had a tackle. "I think that I am adjusting to the temp pretty well. I know there is definitely room for improvement but this is a good step.''