It's Week 3 in the NFL's preseason and it's the final tune up for the starters before the start of the season. For the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos that final tune-up comes Saturday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Both teams have new head coaches who's predecessors (Jim Harbaugh and John Fox) had their teams in the Super Bowl just a few years ago.
49ers first year head coach Jim Tomsula has the bigger challenge in matching the success of previous seasons. San Francisco went through a very difficult offseason as free agency, retirements and off field issues decimated their roster, costing them several Pro Bowl players. The 49ers, coming off a 8-8 season, were expected to go through a make over but nobody expected it to be on the scale that it has become. Tomsula's first priority will be rebuilding a defense that took most of the hits in the offseason.
Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak owns three Super Bowl rings as an assistant and took the Houston Texans, his first tenure as a head coach, to the playoffs. He brings his success as a coach to a Broncos team that has won the AFC West four years in a row. Kubiak quickly went to work transforming a pass-oriented offense with Peyton Manning working out of the shotgun, into one that relies more on the running game and has Manning operating mainly behind center.
Preseason Week 3 - 08/29/15
Time: 9 PM ET/ 7 PM MT
TV: KTVD in Denver; KPIX in San Francisco
Line: Broncos -6 (Westgate Superbook)
San Francisco 49ers
2015 Preseason Record
1-1 (First, NFC West)
Last Game: Dallas Cowboys 6 San Francisco 49ers 23
A second quarter pick-six by defensive tackle Mike Purcell and a blocked punt by Quinton Patton, who recovered it in the endzone for a touchdown, highlighted the 49ers first win of the preseason.
201 Preseason Record
2-0 (First, AFC West)
Last Game: Denver Broncos 14 Houston Texans 10
Down 10-7 late in the fourth quarter, third-string quarterback Trevor Siemian connected with Corbin Loucks on a 26-yard touchdown to give the Broncos their second straight win in preseason play.
10/19/14 @ Sports Authority Field: 49ers 17 Broncos 42.
It was a record-breaking night for Peyton Manning the last time the Broncos faced the 49ers in Week 7 of the 2014 season. Heading into the game Manning was two touchdowns shy of Brett Favre's all-time touchdown record of 508. Manning (22-of-26 for 318 yards) threw the two touchdowns and then some as he ended the night with four, including a 40-yard touchdown to Demaryius Thomas in the third quarter. The Broncos improved their record to 5-1.
The loss to the Broncos snapped the 49ers three-game winning streak and dropped their record to 4-3. Colin Kaepernick (24-of-39, 263 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.) was harassed all night by the Denver defense, sacking the 49ers quarterback six times.
What to watch for:
49ers continue to search for a pass rush:
The 49ers defense, particularly it's pass rush, has been gutted by the retirements of linebackers Chris Borland, Justin Smith and Patrick Willis, as well as off-the-field issues that resulted in the release of linebacker Aldon Smith and the banishment of defensive end Ahmad Brooks back to San Francisco after being charged with sexual assault this week.
Those to watch in Saturday's preseason game will be linebackers Aaron Lynch, Corey Lemonier and rookie Eli Harold. Lynch had been slotted as the backup to Brooks and Harold was listed on the depth chart as the backup to Smith. In today's NFL it's imperative that a team be able to rush the passer. If the 49ers can't put pressure on quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson and Carson Palmer, it will be a very long season.
Broncos first-team offense running the new offense:
Dropped passes and penalties stalled the Broncos first-team offense last week against the Houston Texans. Manning made his preseason debut against the Texans and worked the first four drives, scoring no touchdowns. Head coach Gary Kubiak came away from the game feeling good about Manning's performance. Saturday against the 49ers, Manning and company will be looking to iron out their mistakes from a week ago and get the new offense humming before the starters hit the field for opening day against the Baltimore Ravens on September 13th.
Jarryd Hayne (RB, 49ers)
Jarrod Hayne, a former Australian player, has created a stir in 49ers camp this preseason as he continues to build a good case to make the final 53-man roster as a punt returner. Hayne has never played football before, yet he leads the team in rushing (13 carries for 117 yards) and punt returns ( five returns, 21.6 yds avg.).
Ty Sambrailo (LT, Broncos)
A rookie at left tackle protecting a 39-year old quarterback, who is a lock for the Hall of Fame, will put the spotlight on you every week. Ty Sambrailo, the Broncos second round pick, has been coming along well in the preseason. Last week against the Texans he kept Manning upright and used his athleticism and speed to move downfield while blocking for what looks to be a potent run game. Sambrailo is under a lot of pressure this season to succeed.
|Punt Returns||Number||Fair Catch||AVG||Long||TD|
|NFC West||W L T||PCT||PF||PA||Home||Road||Streak|
|San Francisco 49ers||1 1 0||.500||33||29||1-0||0-1||W1|
|Arizona Cardinals||0 2 0||.000||38||56||0-2||0-0||L2|
|Seattle Seahawks||0 2 0||.000||33||36||0-1||0-1||L2|
|St. Louis Rams||0 2 0||.000||17||45||0-0||0-2||L2|
|AFC West||W L T||PCT||PF||PA||Home||Road||Streak|
|Denver Broncos||2 0 0||1.000||36||30||0-0||2-0||W2|
|Kansas City Chiefs||2 0 0||1.000||48||32||1-0||1-0||W2|
|San Diego Chargers||2 0 0||1.000||39||26||1-0||1-0||W2|
|Oakland Raiders||1 1 0||.500||30||23||1-0||0-1||L1|