The Denver Broncos will be at the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2 of preseason play. Denver is coming off a 21-16 win at home against the Seattle Seahawks, while San Francisco is looking to get things on track after a 23-3 loss at the Baltimore Ravens. It is kind of crazy to think that in Week 1 of the preseason, all four of the prior teams mentioned were all in the last two Super Bowls.
For Denver, the important thing is to avoid injuries. Linebacker Danny Trevathan is out for six to eight weeks with a fractured knee. Running back C.J. Anderson suffered a concussion against Seattle, but returned to practice on Thursday. Also, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was held out of practice on Friday because of an ongoing injury to his thigh.
The Broncos should be as cautious as possible during this game. No more injuries, it is just preseason. Peyton Manning most likely stays on the field for two series at the most, one series if Denver scores on their first offensive possession.
I will be looking at Denver’s running game the most. The 49ers have a great defense against the run and I would like to see how Ronnie Hillman, Anderson, Juwan Thompson and Kapri Bibbs fare running the ball and in pass protection.
Wide receiver Jordan Norwood also has a chance to shine once again in this game, especially with the injury to Sanders. Norwood will get his chances at wide receiver after catching a touchdown pass against Seattle. However, I really want to see Norwood returning both kickoffs and punts after showing promise on special teams against the Seahawks.
Back-up quarterback Brock Osweiler showed guts against the Seahawks, coming back to throw the game-winning touchdown pass after a lousy interception. Now, Osweiler is on the road, and it will be interesting to find out if he can play at the same level in an opposing building.
Finally, linebacker Brandon Marshall will start in place for the injured Trevathan. Marshall must prove that he can be an adequate back-up. If Marshall has a poor performance, Denver will be looking down the roster to fill this important gap because Trevathan will miss regular season time.
As for San Francisco, I know what they can do on defense, so I will be looking at the offense. I am baffled by the team picking up quarterback Blaine Gabbert; I frankly just don’t understand it. The guy was great in college, but an absolutely awful pro. Unfortunately, we will see a lot of Gabbert during this game.
The 49ers have a good group of receiving targets. Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and newly acquired Stevie Johnson will be an interesting group to watch.
Also, one must think about the future of San Francisco’s running game. Frank Gore has shown that he has capabilities of being timeless. No matter his age or injury record, the guy just performs. However, I am very intrigued by Carlos Hyde. Hyde has shown that he is capable of handling a lot of reps during the regular season. He will not be the starter above Gore, but he is an excellent pick to be San Francisco’s running back of the future.
This is a match-up of two of the top five teams in the NFL. I would not be surprised if this is a Super Bowl preview. The two teams do meet in Week 7 in Denver, so do not expect either team to show each other too much. I just hope it is better than last season’s preseason game when the two teams played in a brutal watch that Denver won 10-6.