The Broncos watched David Akers kick the ball through the endzone and Joe Buck immediately talked about Peyton Manning's expectations to be "the best he can be". Joel Dreesen picked up a quick pass short right that went for a first down. Willis McGahee, a few plays later, rumbled down the middle for another first down. Then Manning essentially mocked the John Clayton's of the world by completing a strike to Demaryius Thomas down the right side for 15 yards.
The first incompletion came on 2nd and 7 when Joel Dreesen dropped a pass over the middle. The drive ended with an incompletion fo Brandon Stokley who was looking for a pass interference call. Matt Prater knocked through a 53 yard field goal to give the Broncos an early 3-0 lead.
The Rest of the 1st Half
The Broncos defense got their first opportunity to see action and Von Miller kicked things off with a tackle 4 yards in the backfield. A quick completion to Michael Crabtree on 2nd down and then a sack from the hands of Elvis Dumervil forced a punt. The left tackle tried to take out the legs of Elvis Dumervil and... well... it didn't really work. Elvis isn't so easy to take down and chased down quarterback Alex Smith.
Demaryius Thomas picked up another reception over the middle and proved to be a load to take down, muscling his way out of a tackle. Stokley stretched his body to pull in a catch to the right for another Broncos first down.
What's very exciting about the Broncos offense, so far, is the pass blocking. Peyton Manning could set up and play a game of Risk with Willis McGahee if he chose. Maybe he's more of a Settlers of Catan kind of person? I don't know.
Peyton Manning released a ball deep right for Lance Ball and it went for a huge completion. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning took one right to the chin from Parys Haralson and got right back up, uninjured. Peyton Manning throws right again, this time for an Eric Decker touchdown. Peyton "Freaking" Manning has completed his first passing touchdown in a Denver Broncos uniform. The home crowd loves every second of it.
Broncos lead 10-0.
Alex Smith threw right to Michael Crabtree who was singled up on Champ Bailey, who made a great ankle tackle that would have gone a long long way if Crabtree stayed upright. On the next play, Joe Mays punished Alex Smith as he rolled to the right. The play after that, Wesley Woodyard recovered a fumble after a botched quarterback/center exchange. There's the first turnover of the game.
With the Broncos up 10-0 and possession at the 49er 24 yard line, the Broncos were poised to put the dagger in the heart. McGahee continued to show some shifty moves to find a crease. Manning threw short to Brandon Stokley again and the Broncos found themselves on the 4 yard line. Another touchdown to Eric Decker, this time in the back left corner of the endzone.
The Broncos find themselves up 17-0 against a team that is just a few months removed of being in Super Bowl contention.
The Broncos have done no wrong, so far. Well, they just did. Matt Prater tried an onside kick and the ball was touched by Matt Willis before it reached 10 yards, so the 49ers get good field position and immediately throw deep down the left sideline and hit Vernon Davis on a wheel route for a Niners touchdown.
The Broncos still lead 17-7.
That's the end for Peyton Manning. Caleb Hanie comes in the game and John Fox dials up another McGahee run, which was called back for holding. He throws a pretty nice dart to the left side as Decker gains 7. On the opening play of the second quarter, poor Caleb Hanie threw an interception to former Bronco and current 49er Perrish Cox. That's not a great way to earn your spot on the roster and it could even mean the end of his time in Denver.
The Broncos defense gets its second true challenge of the game as the 49ers make their first trip to the redzone. Wesley Woodyard made a nice tackle on Anthony Dixon on the offensive left side. The Broncos defense held and David Akers kicked a 33 yard field goal, which almost went wide left.
Broncos lead 17-10.
See, take PFM out and— Cecil Lammey (@cecillammey) August 26, 2012
#49ers score 10Points
Surprisingly, Hanie wasn't immediately cut after that last interception, which is good. He gets a chance to redeem himself. He threw a nice pass to Eric Decker on the right side. Decker seems to be a quarterback's dream, at this point. Hanie has targeted him on every pass. Knowshon Moreno comes into the game and rushes for 1 yard off right tackle. On third down, Caleb Hanie rifles it on a slant to Matthew Willis for a first down.
Jeremiah Johnson looked outstanding. He showed great elusiveness and burst on a long run that was called back because of an Orlando Franklin holding call. Because of the holding penalty, the Broncos faced a 3rd and long. Caleb Hanie was sacked and fumbled the ball. Fortunately, he recovered and Britton Colquitt punted for the first time.
Lance Ball has a "chest" injury. He won't return. Translation -- that's likely a rib injury.— Lindsay Jones (@PostBroncos) August 26, 2012
Bad news for Lance Ball. With Jeremiah Johnson running so well as the number 4 running back, it'll be interesting to see what happens with the runningb ack depth chart.
Alex Smith threw a bomb to Randy Moss which fell incomplete. Three Bronco defenders were covering Moss. After a multitude of penalties for delay of game, false start, and then a holding penalty, the Niners found themselves deep in their own territory. The Broncos played some more stingy defense and forced another punt.
Pam Oliver outlined the difficulty that JD Walton has trying to get accustomed to Peyton Manning's idiosyncrasies. Pretty interesting. Matthew Willis had a Caleb Hanie pass go straight through his hands and Knowshon made five yards out of nothing, really. The next play, Moreno took a swing pass to the right and broke 2 tackles to get the first down. That's something we need to keep seeing if Knowshon is going to stay.
Hillman showed a quick stutter step before bursting through the line for 5 yards. There wasn't a whole lot of running room, but he made something of nothing.
Moreno comes back in the game and gets a quick swing pass to the left. He rumbles down the sideline and stiffarms/punches a Niners corner. It was an open handed punch, really...
Jacob Tamme gets his first mention of the day with a short pass to the middle. He evades a diving tackler and takes it down the left side to the 49er 5 yard line. Hanie misses high on a pass to Eric Decker in the back corner of the endzone. On second down, Hanie attempted to hit Decker on the left side and it went through his hands. Joel Dreesen made good on the next play, though, catching a Hanie touchdown pass short left, just across the goal line.
The Broncos took a 24-10 lead with just 26 seconds left in the half.
The Broncos kicked off to start the second half. Colin Kaepernick throws deep right to Ted Ginn, incomplete, but Jerry Franklin jumped offsides, allowing the Niners 5 free yards. The 49ers run the option to the right with Ted Ginn coming around. Ginn limped off after being tackled by Steven Jackson. The next play, Omar Bolden was called for pass interference on a fly route down the right side to Brett Swain. They must have saw something they liked because the Niners ran the end around to the left for a second time and Nate Irving made his first tackle of the game. The next play, Anthony Dixon rumbled for a 26 yard touchdown, right up the gut. Nate Irving and David Bruton overran the play and Dixon cut it up inside, going untouched up the field.
Broncos still lead 24-17.
The kickoff pelted a security guard right in the back. That one looked like it hurt. He received a couple high fives from some people in the front row, though.
Brock Osweiler takes over in the second half. His first pass of the game was quite impressive. He stared down a blitzer from the right and threw into the vacated space. Cornelius Ingram dropped the ball. The next play, Brock was being pressured again, but step up and threw through the hands of Matthew Willis. The Broncos punt it away.
Kaepernick runs a bootleg for a first down, just like the late, great Jake Plummer used to do, so often. Dixon runs for another first down, running through a Robert Ayers arm tackle and stiff arming David Bruton to the ground, along the way. Ayers nearly got himself a sack on the next play, but Kaepernick avoided him and threw downfield, rolling right, and completing it for a first down. The Broncos defense stiffens, later, with Tony Carter and Steven Johnson running in to make a tackle for loss. Kaepernick tried to scramble on the next play and Steven Jackson laid a huge hit on the mobile quarterback before Nate Irving wraps him up. The Niners kick a field goal.
Broncos still lead 24-20.
The Broncos take over again at the 20 (no security guards were hit during this kickoff). Osweiler trots out, once again, hoping to get the Broncos rolling. Ronnie Hillman shows some good patience as he runs to the left side for 7 yards. The next play gets blown up, however, as Adam Grant is pushed backwards and Hillman is wrapped up for a loss. Osweiler threw a strike to Andre Caldwell on the right side for a first down. A few plays later, Hillman is targeted on a screen and gains 6 yards as he stiff arms a defender on his way to the sideline. On third down, Osweiler shrugs off a sack and scrambles for a first down, but the play is brought back with a holding call against Adam Grant. He's not doing himself any favors on this drive. The ensuing 3rd down play, I watched Adam Grant, again, and he was pushed onto his heels and almost fell backwards into Osweiler as he threw incomplete to Greg Orton. The Broncos punt, once again.
Kaepernick hits Kyle Williams short to the left. Drayton Florence tried to jump the route, but just missed, allowing Williams to run for 45 yards. A short pass later and the 49ers find their way into the redzone. Anthony Dixon, the man responsible for gashing the Broncos defense, earlier, goes down and stays down, holding his right forarm/elbow area. Tough break.
— Lindsay Jones (@PostBroncos) August 26, 2012
#Broncos second-string defense has given up 141 yards (and counting) in the third quarter. Starters allowed only 83 in first half.
The Broncos defense gives up a pass to AJ Jenkins for another first down, giving the 49ers a first and goal from the 3 yard line. Dixon must be okay, as he's back in the lineup and rushes ahead for no gain. The Broncos defense holds firm and stuffs Rock Cartwright on 2nd and 3rd downs. Steven Jackson has played very well on the past few series. Malik Jackson had excellent penetration on the 3rd down goal line stand. The 49ers kick a chip shot field goal.
Broncos lead 24-23.
Osweiler leads the offense out for the first play of the 4th quarter. False start... pretty much everyone on the right side of the line. Tony Hills was charged with the penalty, though. Hillman gains all of it back, plus some, rumbling up the middle for 14 yards. He was a foot away from breaking free and taking it to the house. That quickness shows off, even as he loses a yard on 2nd down, as he shows shifty feet trying to find running room. Osweiler's pass on 3rd and short is tipped at the defensive line and the Broncos punt, once again.
The Broncos haven't scored since the scoreboard read "2nd Quarter".
Scott Tolzein takes over as quarterback for the Niners and fires incomplete over the middle. Cartwright exposes the Broncos middle, again, running for 27 yards before Tony Carter brings him down. Tolzein tries to connect with Jenkins down the left sideline, but Drayton Florence was close and the pass fell incomplete. Jamie Blatnick almost got Cartwright on a loss, the next play, but he found a way to gain a couple. Brett Swain exposes Drayton Florence on a quick slant for a first down. Dixon tried to run it around the left side, but Duke Ihenacho made a great ankle tackle in the backfield. Great read by Duke. The next pass is swatted away by Jeremy Beal, but would have probably gone for 6 or 7 yards if completed to the tight end in the right flat. It's the little things, sometimes.
Replacement Referee Confusion
Beal jumped high in the air on 3rd down as Tolzein looked to the right. Tolzein tried to scramble up the middle and Malik Jackson stripped the ball out as he fell to the ground and the Broncos recovered, but the refs ruled him down by contact. The Broncos challenged and Mike Pereira indicated that the play is not reviewable. John Fox was charged a 15 yard penalty for challenging an unreviewable play. John Fox loses his mind, as he should, and even the all-knowing Mike Pereira says that he doesn't usually see that flag thrown.
I'm fairly confused at what's going on, now. The officials are still conferring with each other, but with the ball placed inside the 10 yard line and the Fox graphic stating 1st and goal, the crowd boos. Mike says the refs continue to communicate with a league official via headset about a potential misspoting of the ball or wrong interpretation of a rule. The ball was spotted correctly, but there is some debate about whether or not the flag should have been thrown on John Fox. Sometimes, referees will tell a coach that a play is not reviewable, but John Fox wasn't told about it before the flag was thrown. After much discussion, the flag was picked up and the ball was placed back at its original spot.
The 49ers kick a field goal.
Side note: Jim Harbaugh sure is fiery.
Back to the Game
49ers lead 26-24.
The Broncos take over at the 20 (again) after Jeremiah Johnson mishandles the kickoff and takes a knee for the touchback. Osweiler hits Caldwell right on the hands on a slant, but the ball is dropped. The Broncos run a sweep to Hillman who finds the edge and is pushed out of bounds for 4 yards. Osweiler hits Virgil Green out of the shotgun and he breaks a tackle for a first down. The next player, Anthony Miller misses a block and Ronnie Hillman is tackled behind the line of scrimmage. Miller catches a pass short right on the next play and breaks a tackle for a gain of 3. On 3rd and long, Osweiler shows a burst of Tim Tebow, scrambling up the middle and diving for a first down. San Francisco challenges the spot and won the challenge. The Broncos offense comes back on the field for 4th and 1 with a FB misdirection, but whistles blow as the 49ers call a timeout even as penalty flags fly for an apparent false start. Let's try this again. Fourth and 1, the Broncos stack wide receivers to the left and Jeremiah Johnson takes a pitch to the left. 49ers are all over this one and Johnson runs all the way back to the right side, but ran out of blocks on a loss of 3 yards. It was an ambitious run by Johnson, though.
The 49ers took over at the Broncos 42 yard line. Josh Johnson is the quarterback, now and he airs it out deep down the right sideline and just overthrows Brent Celek. Rafael Bush leaves the game and sits down on the Broncos sideline. The next play, Johnson scrambles and runs right through a Nate Irving arm tackle before being tackled by Sealver Siliga close to the 30 yard line. A few plays later, Anthony Dixon is tackled by Malik Jackson, who strips the ball as they fall to the ground. The ball is picked up by Syd'Quan Thompson and run back for what would have been a defensive touchdown, but the whole thing was whistled dead as the refs claim he was down by contact. The next play is a sweep right and David Bruton makes a touchdown saving ankle tackle. The 49ers kick a field goal.
49ers lead 29-24.
Adam Weber takes over with a little less than 3 minues left to try and get the Broncos some 2nd half points. Weber began to scramble and flipped it out to Jason Hill before reaching the line of scrimmage, but Chris Clark was called for holding. I never saw the hold, though, despite watching the play 3 times. Oh well. Weber launched to the right side on 2nd and long and Hill dropped it. This echoes what I saw at training camp a few weeks ago, unfortunately. On 3rd and long, Weber was sacked by Kenny Rowe. The Broncos punt, again.
Nate Irving makes the stop as Kyle Williams returns the punt. The 49ers take over with just under 2 minutes left in the game. The Niners run the ball up the middle on 1st and 2nd down, so the Broncos use the rest of their timeouts to get another look at Adam Weber. With 53 seconds left, the 49ers punt to Matthew Willis, who catches it at the 1, returns it to the 3 and pitches it back to Tony Carter. The Broncos start at the 1 yard line. That wasn't the brightest of plays by Matthew Willis...
With 39 seconds left, Adam Weber takes over. He passes quick left to Jeremiah Johnson who runs out of bounds at the 7. The 49ers go to full prevent mode and Adam Weber is almost picked off as he throws about 25 yards over the middle on 2nd down. On 3rd and short, he finds Jeremiah Johnson again for a first down. That was identical to the 1st down play, from my perspective. Adam Weber throws over the middle to Jeremiah Johnson, who couldn't get out of bounds. They spike it with 5 seconds left. On the final play of the game, Adam Weber has Gerel Robinson and Andre Caldwell wide left and JAson Hill right. He throws to Andre Caldwell on a deep in and the ball is dropped once again.
Not a great way to end it, but at least the first team Denver Broncos played well.