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Niners still shaky but do enough for first preseason victory

Vernon Davis, with ball, and the San Francisco offense have struggled to find a rhythm so far this preseason. (Associated Press)
Vernon Davis, with ball, and the San Francisco offense have struggled to find a rhythm so far this preseason. (Associated Press)

San Francisco’s No. 1 offense still looks wobbly two weeks from the regular season, but the 49ers managed to get their first preseason victory in a 21-7 win against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday in Santa Clara, California.

There were tens of thousands of empty seats hours after an overnight 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck in Northern California near Napa. The quake affected some public transportation options for fans trying to get to the previously sold-out game at the new $1.2 billion stadium.

The patchy field is still hardly ideal, with visible lines where new sod was placed Friday after the initial turf failed to hold.

Phil Dawson kicked a 39-yard field goal at the 9:27 mark of the second quarter, ending an eight-quarter scoreless drought for the 49ers as they doubled their preseason total. Dawson added another from 28 yards a week after missing twice.

Backup Blaine Gabbert threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald late in the first half for the 49ers’ first TD of the preseason. Gabbert was 5 for 6 in the drive.

Philip Rivers completed his first five passes and finished 9 of 10 for 85 yards and a touchdown. San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick was 6 of 12 for 59 yards.

Bengals 19, Cardinals 13: Cincinnati’s Terence Newman returned an interception 54 yards for the only touchdown by either team’s starters and the Bengals went on to defeat Arizona at Glendale, Arizona.

Patterson returns to Jets

The veteran cornerback Dimitri Patterson was set to rejoin the New York Jets after not showing up for the team’s game against the Giants on Friday night and having no direct communication with anyone in the organization since.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed in an email to the Associated Press that Patterson planned to return to the Jets’ training facility in Florham Park, New Jersey. It was still unclear why Patterson left the team for about 48 hours, a situation that general manager John Idzik called “highly unusual.”

Idzik announced during a conference call that he learned through Rosenhaus on Saturday that Patterson was OK physically and it is not believed to be a legal issue. But at that time, neither Idzik nor coach Rex Ryan had messages left for Patterson returned by him directly.

Prater faced season ban

Matt Prater’s lawyer said the NFL initially threatened a yearlong suspension before agreeing to ban the Denver Broncos kicker four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Harvey Steinberg said Prater’s suspension was alcohol-related. He said Prater consumed a couple of beers while on vacation in between the end of the team’s offseason workout program in June and the start of training camp in late July.

Prater has been in the league’s substance abuse program since he was charged with DUI in 2011.

Around the league

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has a hairline fracture in his ribs and will miss the team’s final preseason game. Newton should be ready for the team’s Sept. 7 regular season opener against Tampa Bay. … Chargers defensive tackle Kwame Geathers was carted off the field with a knee injury in the first quarter against the 49ers. … Titans defensive lineman Ropati Pitoitua (Washington State) broke his left hand in a win at Atlanta, but he is expected to be available for the season opener … The Bills released veteran defensive lineman Alan Branch, one day after he was arrested on a drunken-driving charge.