49ers: Pregame Marque Match ups and Storylines to watch vs. the Broncos

Last Week Niners Live covered every facet of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Our training camp coverage continues as we preview the 2nd preseason game at home against the Denver Broncos.  We will breakdown the key matchups on offense and defense.


49ers Offensive Line & Running Backs vs Denver’s Front 7.

Carlos Hyde will get his chance to atone for last week and both Joe Staley and Trent Brown will have the chance to set the tone early as Denver’s situation at defensive end is sketchy. And expect a pair of young rookies with in the stable of running back’s to be chopping at the bit to deliver against this front seven in Joe Williams and Matt Breida.  Adam Gotsis, who was listed 2nd on the depth chart, and Zach Kerr will be in action replacing Billy Winn who is lost for the season, and Derek Wolfe, who is being held out until the start of the regular season (via DenverBroncos.com). While much attention must be paid to 3-Time First Team All-Pro Von Miller, the Broncos possess a deep line backing core that has not missed a beat despite Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett being held out until the start of the regular season. The remaining offensive line of Daniel Kilgore, Zane Beadles and Brandon Fusco will be challenged by veteran Nose Tackle Domata Peko, Defensive End Jared Crick and DeMarcus Walker who will see time at both Outside Linebacker and defensive end. Both groups will be able to size each other up before Saturday, as for the second straight year, both the 49ers and Broncos will have two joint practices, this time in Santa Clara.

Brian Hoyer vs Denver’s Defensive Pressure

Let’s face, when it comes to getting to the quarterback, nobody does it quite like Von Miller. Trying to block him or slow him down will be a tough task for Trent Brown, as Brian Hoyer is not particularly strong when he’s forced out of the pocket. He will need the benefit of a good play action scheme to be able to zip the ball with authority.

49ers WRs & TEs vs. Denver’s Secondary

The Denver Broncos boast the best secondary unit in the NFL. Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin along with Aldrick Robinson will be challenged to stretch the field against 2016 First Team All Pro Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, who showed in this video that it was business as usual with this pick six against the Chicago Bears on the game’s 3rd play from scrimmage. It’s not certain whom Jeremy Kerley and Trent Taylor will face in the slot; as 3-time pro bowler T.J. Ward is nursing a hamstring injury and is listed as questionable. Look for Will Parks and Justin Simmons to fill in at the Box Safety. Darian Stewart should be available as the Eraser/Free Safety.  Meanwhile, the battle at Tight End rolls on. While Vance McDonald played with the first unit, Logan Paulsen and Blake Bell were used primarily as blockers and Garrett Celek was the only one with a reception. Expect the debuts of Rookies George Kittle and Cole Hikutini, as well.

49ers Front 7 vs. Denver’s Running Backs and Offensive Line

The 49ers will be without DeForest Buckner on Saturday as he will be held out due to a low ankle sprain. Chris Jones should see some action in his place. Solomon Thomas, coming off his impressive debut against the Chiefs, could see action with the 1st unit.  The linebacking core of Navarro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks and Rookie Reuben Foster look to continue their cohesion. Denver’s offensive line is a work in progress, highlighted by two off-season free agent acquisitions; Ron Leary, who started with Dallas last season at Right Guard, is currently nursing a groin injury (per DenverBroncos.com), thus Allen Barbre is expected to see action with the 1st team.  The running attack for Denver looks to be in good shape with C.J. Anderson back for his 5th season. Also, the intriguing Jamaal Charles is currently listed 3rd on Denver’s depth chart. 

49ers Secondary vs. Denver’s WR’s and TE’s

The task for the 49ers’ Secondary gets even tougher with the Broncos top duo receiving threat of DeMaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders with Cody Latimer at the slot. The tight end position appears to be locked up with Virgil Green as the starter. Rashard Robinson will build from his interception against the Chiefs seen in this video.The 49ers are hopeful that Dontae Johnson will be cleared from concussion protocol to participate. Note: Johnson returned to practice on Tuesday and had some impressive reps including breaking up a pass intended for WR Aldrick Robinson. Look for Keith Reaser again to see time at Right Cornerback. Lorenzo James may once again see time with the first unit at Free Safety if Jaquiski Tartt is unavailable. Eric Reid will look to play penalty free football this week.

Note: Jimmie Ward (FS/Eraser) preseason debut could be in doubt this week as the 49ers are scheduled for two joint practices with the Denver Broncos this week leading up to Saturday’s game.

Storylines: The Ties that bind the 49ers and Broncos together.

Both the Head Coaches and General Managers have connections with each franchise. Rookie Offensive Minded Head Coach, Kyle Shanahan, will be squaring off against the Defensive Minded rookie Head Coach Vance Joseph. Vance got his NFL Coaching start with the San Francisco 49ers serving as Defensive Backs Coach from 2005-2010. Kyle’s father, of course, is Mike Shanahan, who was not only the former 49er Offensive Coordinator from1992-1994, helping them to their 5th Super Bowl title, but went on to become Head Coach of the Denver Broncos leading current Broncos General Manager and Hall of Fame Quarterback John Elway to two Super Bowl Championships. Current San Francisco 49ers General Manager John Lynch also played under Mike Shanahan during his final four years in the NFL with Denver from 2004-2007.

The Battle at Quarterback for Denver: New Coach, Same Issue

Trevor Siemian is right now the #1 quarterback on the depth chart; but with his dink and dunk style, has done little to establish himself over Paxton Lynch as the starter. Denver Head Coach Vance Joseph summed up their performances against Chicago (via DenverPost.Com). There should be plenty of opportunities for pass rushers Arik Armstead, former Bronco Elvis Dumervil and Aaron Lynch to get sacks.

In Conclusion

This is a new season and a new era for the San Francisco 49ers, which means even in preseason, there are no easy games. Last week, the first units on the offense and defensive side of the ball went against the very best Kansas City had to offer and did not produce the kind of results that Head Coach Kyle Shanahan would have liked to have seen. That road will not get any easier against the Denver Broncos.

On a Niners Live side note:

49ers: Recent transactionsand injury updates.

Team notes: 8 Observations from 49ers Training Camp: Aug. 15

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus49ers.comESPN.comNFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author and new Staff Writer @NinersLive.net, David Edmondson. Co-Author, Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims