Russell Wilson and the Broncos look to build upon their Week 2 win last week against the Texans. Stick here for live updates and analysis as Denver takes on the 49ers at Empower Field at Mile High.
Mark Kiszla, columnist: Broncos 24, 49ers 23
Anybody else in Broncos Country believe if all other things were equal and we did nothing except trade Nathaniel Hackett for Kyle Shanahan that Denver would win this game by a touchdown? Either Hackett demonstrates he can make solid football decisions under pressure or the home crowd can start counting down the time until players begin to lose faith in their coach.
Kyle Newman, beat writer: Broncos 21, 49ers 17
A battle between two impressive defenses in the first half gives way to play-making and gamesmanship in the second half. Yes, Jimmy G will have a moment or two. But it’s Russell Wilson, aided by another potent run-game performance, who throws his first multi-TD game with Denver. The deciding scoring pass goes to Courtland Sutton late in the fourth quarter.
Matt Schubert, sports editor: 49ers 20, Broncos 17
After an underwhelming home debut against an equally underwhelming opponent (Houston), the Broncos step up two or three classes to take on one of the NFL’s top defenses. As much as we recommend staying away on Jimmy G when making wagers, we’d sooner light our money on fire than place a bet on a Nathaniel Hackett-led operation right now.
Sean Keeler, columnist: Broncos 19, 49ers 17
If the sight of old friend Little Shanny doesn’t get Russell Wilson going, nothing will. DangeRuss went 8-2 in 10 regular-season meetings against the Niners in the NFC West, and even more impressively, 4-1 away from the 12th Man in Seattle. What the heck. Let’s ride.
Broncos-49ers NFL Week 3: Must reads
Best advice for Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett, former NFL coaches say? Learn from mistakes. Also, hurry up. “You gotta do it quick.”
Some two weeks into the regular season, Nathaniel Hackett’s already made — well, more than a few mistakes.
Hackett admitted early last week that the Broncos’ play-calling operation — with a first-time head coach and first time NFL coordinators on offense, defense and special teams — wasn’t working, and that the blame started with him. For Jim E. Mora, the venerated former coach of the Saints and Colts, that confession was a crucial first step toward fixing the problem, Sean Keeler reports.
Broncos scouting report: How Denver matches up against 49ers and predictions
Jimmy Garoppolo has three bona fide weapons at wideout in Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings and Deebo Samuel, the latter of whom can break the game open on vertical routes and in the run game.
That means the Broncos’ secondary will need to be on point, especially with captain Justin Simmons (quad) sidelined.
Caden Sterns, subbing for Simmons, will start at safety alongside Kareem Jackson; K’Waun Williams will be at the nickel as usual, and P.J. Locke will play the dime. Pat Surtain II will start alongside Ronald Darby if Surtain can go following a shoulder tweak that knocked him out of last week’s win over Houston. If Surtain can’t play, rookie Damarri Mathis will get the nod, Kyle Newman reports.
Banged-up Broncos offensive line awaits Billy Turner’s return after “A-minus” start to 2022 campaign
Historically, when the Broncos are at their best, their offensive line is one of the top blocking units in the NFL. Through two games this year, Denver’s front doesn’t qualify as elite. But they are getting there, in spite of injuries to right guard Quinn Meinerz (hamstring) and right tackle Billy Turner (knee).
General manager George Paton’s roster construction gave the Broncos breathing room for just those types of injuries on the offensive line. Whereas in recent years the Broncos needed to turn to inexperienced players when starters went down, this season, they had two veterans waiting in the wings at right guard (Graham Glasgow) and right tackle (Cam Fleming).
Glasgow, Denver’s starter at right guard last year before sustaining a season-ending fractured ankle in Week 9, grades the Broncos’ line at an A-minus so far. The Broncos rank 10th in average rushing yards (126), tied-19th in sacks (five, although a couple of those could be classified as coverage/scramble sacks) and are 24th in points per game (16), Kyle Newman reports.