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Horse Tracks: Running backs shined in Broncos loss to 49ers

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It’s preseason, so losing isn’t a big deal. What is a big deal is how the players perform individually and as a unit. And on Saturday night, it was the running backs that looked efficient.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In Saturday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Denver Broncos learned something important about their 2016 team and it had little do with the quarterback conundrum. They learned they have some talent at running back.

Not a single runner averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry as the group carried the rock just 21 times between the four of them for 110 yards and a touchdown. Ronnie Hillman and Kapri Bibbs each got three carries on the night. Hillman took his three for 21 yards and Bibbs for 23.

The real star of the night was C.J. Anderson, who ran the ball six times for 30 yards and one very impressive 19-yard touchdown run.

"I just think we handled everything well," said Anderson. "Trevor [Siemian] came out throwing the ball and we got in a rhythm early. Then I got some carries and got a chance to feel the game and get into a rhythm. When we got into the red zone, we had to punch it in. I got an opportunity to make the most of it."

That was the best play of the night, for sure. However, the first team offensive line did struggle to get in sync at times. Anderson thinks that will come eventually.

"You don’t see it when it’s happening, and then when you come back and talk about it on the sideline… We should be in sync and on the same page," explained Anderson. "We will get better at it. I like where we are at now compared to where we were last year for sure."

Then there was the workhorse of the night, rookie running back Devontae Booker who took the ball nine times for 36 yards.

"He is just explosive," Anderson said of Booker. "He has the balance and he can see things that are coming to him. We got better this week with the things we talked about that we want him to do. We are all just going to stay on him so he can keep improving."

Booker is enjoying his extra playing time too. As a rookie, the more reps you get in a real game the better.

"When you get that many carries in a row, you start to heat up a little bit more faster and just start going with the flow of the game," said Booker.

The running is great, but what Booker worked most on was picking up the pass blocking assignments.

"Pass protection. I did good this week in pass protection," said Booker. "We stress it a lot, being a running back. We’ve got to protect the quarterback. I felt like I did a real good job of that tonight."

You have to love that a rookie cares more about how he did in pass protection than running the ball.

Horse Tracks

49ers 31, Broncos 24: Three Keys, Unlocked
Turnovers doomed the Broncos in a 31-24 loss to the 49ers in their second preseason game Saturday.

Denver Broncos quarterback battle remains wide open - NFL.com
The Denver Broncos have three quarterbacks but no clear starter. Trevor Siemian, Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch remain locked in a three-way battle following Saturday's game against the 49ers.

Turnovers leave uncertainty at Broncos QB spot after facing 49ers - 7NEWS
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Broncos’ QBs struggle in preseason audition vs. 49ers – The Denver Post
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Broncos notes: Ware will return to practice next week | 9news.com
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Join the Broncos' fight against Alzheimer's
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Was the 2015 Broncos defense the greatest defense in NFL history? - Behind the Steel Curtain
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Instant analysis: Paxton Lynch excites in 31-24 loss to 49ers | Broncos Wire
Instant reaction and general analysis for the Broncos second preseason game. The 49ers upset was a surprise but nothing to worry about.

Paxton Lynch impresses with strong debut, fantasy potential growing - SBNation.com
Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch is making good progress. We look at the fantasy implications.

The 49ers and Broncos fumbled 3 times in less than a minute - SBNation.com
Mark Sanchez and Mike Davis collectively fumbled three times to end the first half.

2016 Broncos are better than the 2015 Broncos | Colorado Springs Gazette, News
Blame the media. They've got it all wrong, again. The experts say Denver's done. Without a clear-cut quarterback, pundits are convinced the Super Bowl-champion Broncos are finished, falling, destined for failure?

Sanchez, Siemian of Broncos both lament struggles in preseason loss to 49ers
The Broncos' Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian lamented their struggles during Saturday's preseason loss to the 49ers, in which both committed costly turnovers as they battle for the starting job.

Broncos' QB question remains unanswered after loss to 49ers - ESPN
Trevor Siemian and Mark Sanchez both had uneven performances in Denver's preseason loss Saturday as the Broncos move on without a clear starting QB.

Denver Broncos' QB competition still a wide-open mess | Yahoo
In less than three weeks, the Denver Broncos will open the 2016 regular season here. Coach Gary Kubiak expressed that he wanted to make the decision before next week’s third preseason game. After none of the three quarterbacks separated themselves on Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers, it seems