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Broncos vs. 49ers: Five things to watch during the game

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I give you five things to watch during tonight's game.

Casey Barrett/Mile High Report
1. All eyes on Trevor Siemian

The Broncos "co-starter" at quarterback will get his shot at starting this preseason by getting the start against the San Francisco 49ers during tonight's week two preseason matchup.

Last week against the Chicago Bears, veteran Mark Sanchez got the start while Trevor Siemian came in after him. This week the roles will reverse while rookie Paxton Lynch will finish up the game.

"Trevor will start. He and Mark Sanchez will consistently play the same amount, which I’d like to tell you is a quarter and a half, but it’ll probably be more of a play count. Trevor will start, then Mark will go and then Paxton will finish up."

Kubiak mentions that they will have a "play count" so how long they last in the game will vary obviously but figures to be about a quarter and a half or so.

The two quarterbacks have continued to split reps all of Training Camp, and will both get reps with the first teamers during tonight's preseason game according to Kubiak.

"No doubt. They’ve been splitting it right down the middle. Mark started last week. They should both play with the ones, some way this week. We’ll see how the reps pan out."

So what will Siemian have to show to win the Denver Broncos starting quarterback job? He will need to show he can command the huddle, make the right reads and decisions, limit turnovers, move the ball down the field, and get some points on the board. A solid outing could earn him the starting quarterback job, but a bad one could give the job to Mark Sanchez.

I hope the Broncos come away with some sort of answer at quarterback after tonight's game, but I still feel like this battle drags into the team's third preseason game.

2. Cody Latimer could lock down the #3 wide receiver job

Last week, former second-round pick Cody Latimer had a breakout performance against the Chicago Bear. Latimer caught 7 passes for 82 yards last Thursday night and helped solidify his roster spot.

With Bennie Fowler out for multiple weeks because of a hairline fracture in his elbow, Latimer can take advantage of this and win the number three job in the Broncos offense.

Latimer is one of the Broncos more physically gifted offensive weapons on the team. He has good size, good speed, soft hands, a physical runner after the catch, and has the potential to be a very good wide receiver in this league. So it is promising to see him finally turning that corner for the Broncos.

Another solid showing from Latimer would be awesome to see. It would boost his confidence, the Broncos coaches confidence in him, and probably earn him the number three job heading into the season.

3. Will the Broncos defense keep the preseason shutout alive?

The Broncos dominate defense shutout the Chicago Bears offense last week and continued to dominate the San Francisco 49ers during joint practices this week.

Denver Broncos star edge rusher Von Miller will get his first action of the year tonight against the 49ers. He was unblockable at times during joint practices and figures to be his usual dominant self again tonight. Look for a sack followed by one of his signature funky Von Miller sack dances.

We'll also see defensive end Derek Wolfe tonight despite him suffering an ankle injury during Thursday's practice. At first didn't look good, but Wolfe is a beast and is good to go.

"Derek is fine. I expect Derek back tomorrow for our light practice. I expect him to play. He is doing well. Derek is doing well."

We won't see Aqib Talib tonight, will see Chris Harris Jr., Bradley Roby, and possibly ball hawk Lorenzo Doss as well.

I'll be paying close attention to 2015 first-round pick Shane Ray tonight as well. He had a half sack against the Bears and was giving All-Pro left tackle Joe Staley fits during practice this week. So Ray could continue his strong summer with another solid showing tonight.

Finally, the Broncos will need to find a replacement for Vance Walker who was lost for the season earlier this week with a torn ACL. Will it be veteran Jared Crick or Billy Winn? How about second-year defensive lineman Darius Kilgo? Rookie Adam Gotsis figures to make a push for that starting gig as well.

4. Broncos offensive line

While the quarterback battle is stealing all the headlines, the offensive figures to be just as important to the Broncos success this season. The man who the Broncos are counting on to protect whoever the quarterback is blindside will be making his first appearance for the Broncos tonight.

Max Garcia, Matt Paradis, Darrion Weems, and Donald Stephenson figure to be your starters tonight, so hopefully they protect Trevor Siemian and open up running lanes for the Broncos running backs.

The 49ers defense is pretty good and did get after the Broncos quarterbacks during their fully padded session on Wednesday. So this will be something to keep an eye on tonight. Pass protection could help or ruin one of the Broncos quarterbacks night.

5. Kick/punt return job remains wide open

Jordan Norwood, Kalif Raymond, and Bralon Addison are all fighting for the return job and a spot on the Broncos 53-man roster.

Last week, Raymond was the first to get return kicks and punts for the Broncos so it will be interesting to see if that changes at all this week. Likely we'll see Addison get the first shot this week while Raymond gets second half reps.

It looks like both are currently behind veteran Jordan Norwood. He can produce as a wide receiver and at returner, so that versatility should earn him the roster spot ahead of the two young explosive rookies.

However, a big kick or punt return for a touchdown could push Raymond and Addison on to the Broncos roster. This battle will be a fun one to watch between two electric players.