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Broncos vs. 49ers: Bruce Miller, Chris Harris Jr. highlight game's underrated players

We look at the underrated and under-the-radar players heading into Denver and San Francisco's Week 7 matchup.

Justin Edmonds

San Francisco 49ers

By David Fucillo

LBs Chris Borland/Michael Wilhoite: I had to combine these two together because of the 49ers current linebacker situation. Wilhoite has been starting all season in place of NaVorro Bowman, who is hopefully back in November or December. He has done a very solid job alongside Patrick Willis. He does not have the same raw skills as Bowman, but he has been solid, which is all 49ers fans could really ask.

Speaking of Willis, Borland could be starting in his place this Sunday. Willis suffered a sprained toe, which likely means he misses SNF. The 49ers spent a third round pick on him this year. People question his size and tools, but he looked solid in the second half in place of Willis. It will be interesting to see how much dime the 49ers use on Sunday. They could stick with an extra defensive back to replace one of the two linebackers, which is what I would expect to see. That being said, we could see Borland and Wilhoite both get playing time as the one linebacker in that dime.

FB Bruce Miller: He's not under the radar to 49ers fans, but as a fullback, it's easy for opposing fans to overlook him. He has become an integral part of the 49ers run blocking scheme, but he also is a safety valve weapon for Colin Kaepernick. I don't expect to see a ton of him, but there is a better than even chance there is at least one play where Miller catches one out of the backfield and turns it into a first down.

DL Tony Jerod-Eddie/Demarcus Dobbs: Again, we'll cheat a little and combine these two. TJE and Dobbs are the 49ers two primary reserve defensive linemen behind Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. Given the volume of plays we'll see with Peyton Manning, I suspect the 49ers mix in those two to get Smith and McDonald some rest where they can. Neither is going to blow the doors down, but they are solid options to give the starters a rest.

Denver Broncos

By Kyle Montgomery

CB Chris Harris Jr. Harris is certainly not underrated among Broncos fans, but he isn't receiving the national coverage he deserves. He's arguably the best cornerback in the game right now, and he seems to be getting better each and every week, now fully recovered from the ACL tear he suffered in January. As PFF notes, quarterbacks who throw in his direction have completed just 37% of their passes and have a 31.9 passer rating (both marks lead the NFL). Harris has not allowed 100 receiving yards this year - not in a game, total.

The national media has already penciled-in Rolando McClain for Comeback Player of the Year, but, to me, Harris, his remarkable recovery, and his repeatedly dominating performances merit consideration.

LBs Brandon Marshall and Corey Nelson. Linebacker Danny Trevathan is Denver's starting weakside linebacker, but with his being placed on Injured Reserve (designated to return) this week, that reopens the door for Marshall to fill in. Marshall already did that in Weeks 1-3 during Trevathan's initial injury, and he did an okay-to-good job. When Trevathan went down on the second snap of Denver's Week 6 game against the Jets, Marshall quickly stepped up, and he played really, really well. Meanwhile, rookie Corey Nelson came in and saw more than half the Broncos' defensive snaps in nickel looks and played well in his first extensive NFL work. Both are good in coverage, and while neither can athletically compete with Trevathan, together they help compensate for his loss.

TE Virgil Green. When Green left the Seattle Seahawks game in Week 3 with an injury, the Broncos offense noticeably shifted. The two-tight end sets the Broncos were running altered dramatically, and both John Fox and Peyton Manning admitted after the game that Green's loss was a big reason why. How could this backup tight end be so important on an offense so loaded? Put simply, he contributes a lot to what the Broncos do in the run game, and he's a critical piece in pass protection too. He's a great blocker, occasionally lines up at fullback, and definitely acts as a road-grader on the screens Denver likes to run. He's the second-highest graded offensive player on the Broncos offense, according to PFF, behind only Manning himself.

Who's under the radar for you? Who'd we miss?