The first touchdown wasn't a 49er's, either. It was a 17-yard bullet from Peyton Manning to Julius Thomas.
The next score was a one-yard rush by C.J. Anderson. The next was a 33-yard pass from Brock Osweiler to Cody Latimer. And on and on it went, with the Broncos executing on both offense and defense, as Denver dominated the 49ers in preseason play to spoil their Levi's Stadium debut 34-0.
The 49ers received the opening kickoff, but Colin Kaepernick and company couldn't convert their drive into points, despite a handful of nice plays. Two missed field goals in the first half told a large part of the 49ers' shutout tale, but the Broncos defense deserves credit for applying pressure on key plays and doing just enough to slow down the Niners run game, where Carlos Hyde was limited to a 2.8-yard average on four carries (Frank Gore had 12 yards on two carries, though).
Nice jam by Bradley Roby on Brandon Lloyd off the snap.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 17, 2014
Kaepernick finished 5 of 9 for 39 yards and a 66.4 rating, which the Broncos will take every time. Brandon Marshall played admirably filling in for Danny Trevathan, leading the team in tackles with five, all solo. I liked what I saw from Lerentee McCray filling in for Von Miller, showing good awareness to make a couple of stops in coverage just in front of the first down marker. I also liked Bradley Roby, who was difficult to shake in coverage.
The Broncos defense got lucky on one play, a nice deep pass from Kaepernick that saw Aqib Talib and Rahim Moore get beat.
Peyton Manning was in midseason form. You can call him The Sheriff, I'll call him The Surgeon as Manning was deadly and accurate in his touchdown drive. He went 8-for-8, hitting Demaryius Thomas, Jordan Norwood, and Julius Thomas on the drive.
This all led to a perfect 30-yards-in-the-air dart from Manning to J. Thomas.
Manning finished the game with that, completing 12-of-14 passes (85.7%) for 102 yards with one touchdown (120.8 rtg.). He was 8-of-8 on the Broncos’ second drive.
Denver’s first-team offense has scored on 3-of-4 possessions this preseason as Manning has combined to complete 22-of-27 passes (81.5%) for 182 yards with one touchdown (107.1 rtg.). Look out, 2013 records.
It is worth mentioning that the 49ers rested five of their seven front-seven defensive starters today, so the Broncos were dominating mostly backups.
Second team offense
The heir apparent to Peyton Manning? Try the Air Apparent.
Brock Osweiler was nearly perfect, and this 33-yard pass to rookie second round pick Cody Latimer was simply beautiful (and highly reminiscent of Brock and Cody in training camp).
Running back Juwan Thompson had another handful of impressive runs, including a big truck for extra yards in the third quarter. His 9.8-yard average from a week ago absolutely disappeared though, as he was held to a 1.7-yard average.
C.J. Anderson led all running backs with 29 yards and a touchdown. Ronnie Hillman had the best average with 4.8 on four carries.
Second and third team defense
Fast-moving and hard-hitting, the Broncos' second and third team defensive units proved too much to handle for 49ers QBs Blaine Gabbert and Josh Johnson. Particularly impressive was Steven Johnson, who boasted a half-sack and an interception in backup work, his second straight preseason game with a pick. Kenny Anunike helped him with the sack.
Third team offense
Zac Dysert didn't play poorly; he just didn't get a lot of help from his wide receivers. Dysert had two touchdown throws taken away by Broncos penalties - he got Denver's last score, an easy toss to tight end Cameron Morrah, to, make the score 34-0.
"Thought we made some improvements from last week .... I'm proud of Brock and Zac." - #Manning— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 17, 2014
49ers safety Antoine Bethea left the game with a concussion. Broncos linebacker Lamin Barrow was carted off with a leg injury and did not return. Broncos tight end Gerell Robinson limped off with an apparent knee injury and did not return.
Demaryius Thomas looked to have hurt his left hand on a blocking play early in the second quarter, but he came back in the game. It will be something to keep an eye on, though.
There was a ton to like about this game, and this recap only scratched the surface. Who and what did you like from Denver's dominating performance Sunday?