BK's Broncos Blog: It's Like Looking in A Mirror for Broncos & 49ers

Broncos Rookie QB Drew Lock had a smile on his face, and brace on his right hand postgame. (Photo: Brandon Krisztal/KOA NewsRadio)

The Broncos and 49ers seem permanently linked, or at least, in recent years, and seemingly for years to come, they are intertwined. Mike Shanahan is the most common link, but the overlap with John Elway and John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan, grew up on the Broncos sidelines, of course. Broncos new Offensive Coordinator, Rich Scangarello, runs Kyle's offense, which is newer version of his Dad/Gary Kubiak's version of Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense. Wes Welker coaches the Wide Receivers in San Fran. Bobby Turner is their Running Backs Coach. Vic Fangio was the 9ers Defensive Coordinator for 4 years from 2011-2014, highlighted by a loss to the Joe Flacco and the Ravens in Super Bowl 47....You Get The Point...

Thus, when they are on the field, whether it be in practice, as they were Friday and Saturday, or in a game, as they were Monday, it really is like looking in a mirror.

There's 2 ways to look at the early part of the game, when the starters were in, and it probably depends on what sideline you were on, or what team you root for. The 49ers starting offense had a tough night. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was just 1-6 for no yards, posted a 0.0 passer rating, and was intercepted by 2nd-year cornerback Isaac Yiadom

So, you can also view that as a heckuva night for the Broncos starting D as well. Von Miller was on the field with his fellow starters for 16 plays. Other than Yiadom's pick, the 2 big standouts were Defensive Lineman Shelby Harris who knocked down a Jimmy G pass, and tipped another, and Bradley Chubb. Chubb, the Broncos top pick was very disruptive, including a couple of pressures on Garoppolo and strip-sack of backup QB, C.J. Beathard, before exiting the game showing that he, and the rest of the Broncos starting defense are ready for Sept. 9th when they open in Oakland.

On the flip side, Denver's starting offense was better, but not sure how much better. Flacco was 7-11 for 59 yards, but a 21-yard dart to Courtland Sutton in the middle of 4 defenders looked different than any pass we've seen in Broncos Country for a few years. Flacco's night may have been even better, if his 40-yard heave to Emmanuel Sanders wasn't called back thanks to a Garrett Bolles holding call.

Flacco, like a good starting QB, wasn't going to throw his left tackle under the proverbial bus. "What am I going to say to Garrett? No, those things happen. I didn’t see it. Even if I did say something, I’d have to see it first just to see if it was actually holding. Garrett’s going to do his thing out there and sometimes things like that happen, you just have to keep them to a minimum."

Speaking of Sanders it was great to see the Broncos veteran wideout back on the football field in and NFL game for the first time since he tore his Achilles tendon in a December 5th practice. It's pretty remarkable how quickly Sanders has bounced back from what can often be a career-ending, or at least career "slowing-down" injury. At 32, Sanders looks more like he's 22. He caught a couple of passes from Flacco, including that aforementioned 40-yarder that didn't stand, and he provided the 2nd-longest run of the night, a 19-yarder on an end around.

Understandably, the 2-Time Pro Bowler was all smiles following the game.

The Broncos running game certainly left something to be desired, but, it goes back to my main point, these teams are reflections of each other in a lot of ways, specifically in the plays they call and how they're run. Neither defense is fooled by play-action and bootlegs, and they are keenly aware that the ball carriers are often looking for cut back lanes in the run-game, so those lanes, often aren't there.

Injuries: Dodging a Bullet, Sort of...

Two of the top-3 draft picks left the game battered, bruised, but, according to both reports and the players, they aren't too serious. Top-pick Noah Fant left the game with a foot injury. I saw him in the locker room after he received treatment, and while he was walking gingerly, he was walking. When the tight end took that shot, it immediately conjured memories of all the low shots Rob Gronkowski took in his career. Fingers crossed, Fant is able to avoid some of those shots, but, he's big, fast and hard to tackle. Unfortunately, we may see this a few more times in his career.

The QB who may likely throw him most of his passes in his career, 2nd-rounder Drew Lock also exited earlier than planned. In fact, he was slated to play the entire 3rd-quarter, after playing all of the 2nd as well. But, his night ended early, as he scrambled left, stumbled to the ground and his right hand slammed into the ground. In real-time it didn't look like anything much, but on TV and on the replay it was easy to see that his right thumb hit the ground awkwardly. X-Rays came back negative, and as he was leaving the locker room, Lock told me he's hopeful that he can play Saturday in L.A. against the Rams, but it's not up to him.

The Missouri product was pretty positive about his night, despite the injury.

The famed "Border-War" really only matter to folks in Kansas and Missouri. While Lock, a Mizzou product, should be ok, sooner than later, rookie linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. may likely have a longer road to get back on the field. He broke his hand in the game, and is being evaluated. Any surgery will certainly land him on the Injured Reserve list, and that may not be the worst thing. With Todd Davis set to return this week and Joe Jones hoping to return as well, making the 53-man roster to start the year may have been a tall task. By going on IR, the Broncos can develop Dineen slowly and see where he is next year. They can also release him and sign him to the practice squad, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on as he and the Broncos determine his course.

The Broncos have a short week now, before heading to L.A. Friday, for Saturday night's game with the reigning NFC Champs. There's a notion that the starters may have played the most ball they'll play until the Raiders game, but I'm of the opinion that, at least the offensive starters, will be on the field in the 2nd quarter. The biggest question now, is will Drew Lock be ready to come in and get more work, when Flacco and company are done.

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