But given the “must-win” necessity of these final four games to have any chance at the playoffs - and that the Broncos are coming off a three-game win streak that had pundits talking about the Broncos as possibly the most threatening team in the playoffs - the Niners’ 20-13 victory is harder to swallow.
So that makes the second segment of the First & 10 @ 10 show today that much more worth your time to take a listen. Ryan Edwards, Andrew Mason and Steve Atwater start with the positive and give a player who deserves their “tip of the cap,” followed by the thing that made each want to “throw their hat.”
Find out what made @SteveAtwater27, @redwardsradio and I tip our caps (1:12) … and also what drove us to the exasperation of throwing our hats (15:23) from #DENvsSF https://t.co/xu8TnhGlql pic.twitter.com/F0XrYSrIig— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) December 10, 2018
Enjoy the segment because the “tip of the cap” will remind you this team is still worth celebrating - and the “throw the hat” will make you smile as Edwards, Mase and Atwater get so riled up, you wonder what the studio looked like afterward.
For the highlight reel, let’s start with the negative in which all three basically picked on the Broncos’ defense and its utter inability to stop a 49ers offense with essentially one or two weapons.
‘Throw your hat’
Niners’ touchdown drive just before halftime
Edwards was furious over the final drive by the 49ers at the end of the first half in which five Broncos’ penalties helped San Francisco march down the field with only 55 seconds to go and get to the red zone before an easy one-yard TD pass to Dante Pettis.
“With 55 seconds remaining in the second quarter, the Broncos, defensively, have got to get a stop,” Edwards said, noting that then the Broncos proceeded to get “three straight penalties on three straight plays” to help the Niners get to mid-field with 37 seconds.
A few plays later, an 18-yard deep pass to George Kittle puts the Niners on the Broncos’ 14 with a first down.
Broncos S Darian Stewart: “That was some BS with what we were putting out in the first half.”— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) December 10, 2018
“Thanks to penalties and breakdowns in defense, the 49ers are now in the red zone with under 30 seconds!!!!” Edwards screamed, adding that a neutral zone infraction by Von Miller was followed by an incomplete that drew a DPI from Isaac Yiadom, suddenly putting the 49ers at 1st and goal from the one.
“Eleven penalties for 62 yards (on the day) but FIVE ON THAT ONE DRIVE!” Edwards said. “If the defense gets the stop there, down two scores, get the ball back after halftime, drive down, get a touchdown, new ball game.”
Mase highlighted the fact that the Broncos’ offense on the previous drive being unable to keep the ball for longer than 30 seconds of the final 1:48 left on the clock - and even get a field goal to keep the score 13-3 - was a contributing factor to the defense’s troubles.
Just a brutal inexcusable loss for the #Broncos...wastes all of the work over the past few weeks to fight back into contention. Injuries played a factor but definitely not the reason they lost. Broncos were out-executed and out-coached. So disappointing— Ryan Edwards (@redwardsradio) December 10, 2018
Broncos waste a timeout
Atwater was incensed over the defense’s lack of preparation following a 49ers timeout in which the Broncos ended up having to call another timeout immediately afterward to avoid having too many players on the field.
“The play is getting ready to start, and we don’t have enough guys on the field. We have the wrong personnel in. So we have to call a timeout right after they call a timeout!!!” Atwater said, adding that it didn’t cost the Broncos anything to lose that timeout, but “it’s the principle” of the thing. “When I saw our guys scrambling to get on the field and we had to call a timeout right ... I was up in the press box and you know what I did? I threw my dadgum hat. Dude, I was hot! They called a timeout, man! We should have our stuff together so when the timeout is up, we are ready to go!”
George Freakin Kittle
Finally, Mason brought up the most glaring abomination from the game - tight end George Kittle torching the defense for TWO HUNDRED AND TEN yards. Unbelievable. But Mase said it better:
“George Kittle has been dicing you up into bits the entire half. Who is the one guy you gotta stop?” Mason asked rhetorically about the final drive before the half. “85 has two receptions for 31 yards on that touchdown drive. This is on top of what he’s been doing!”
But it was the 85-yard touchdown play from No. 85 that had Mason whipping his cap off in a frenzy. After the tight end had nearly 100 yards in the first quarter, that play was everything that was wrong with the defense on Sunday.
“GEORGE KITTLE WAS WIDE FREAKING OPEN! That was as easy an 85-yard touchdown pass as you’ll ever see in the NFL,” Mason said. “Georgie Kittle time and again was breaking the Broncos’ back, and the BRONCOS HAD NO ANSWER FOR HIM!”
Although Kittle’s two catches in the final drive before the half were not nearly as impressive, they kept the drive alive and Mason’s blood pressure rising.
“How can you repeatedly have no answer for Kittle? And even after that 85-yarder, he has those two catches on the drive before the end of the half...that was intolerable,” Mason added. “That is the only guy who can break your back, STOP HIM!!”
Regarding TE George Kittle, Ol' Nick Mullens on the field was seeing what we were seeing from the press box— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) December 10, 2018
"He was open every play, man. It was crazy."
But we don’t want to end on our same complaints from yesterday, so let’s not forget the few gutsy performances we did see.
‘Tip of the Cap’
“With two sacks, taking his total to 12 over the course of the season, Chubb is now getting to the point where you can realistically start talking about him breaking rookie sack record of 14.5 by Jevon Kearse,” Mase said, pointing out that Chubb’s numbers over the last eight games would pro-rate into a 21-sack season. “Bradley Chubb is a beast. He is strong against the run as well but making plays in the pass-rush. Those guys who have those those types of seasons as rookies tend to have good if not great careers. Maybe in a couple years we’re talking about Bradley Chubb being Defensive Player of the Year candidate.”
Steve Atwater gave some love to the first-year wide receiver who stepped in as WR3 and made some huge plays for a struggling offense.
“Tim Patrick - 10 targets, 7 catches, 85 yards and that doesn’t include the one we didn’t challenge,” Atwater said, noting that Patrick played 86 percent of the snaps. “ He had a great game. We’d seen it in preseason and now he stepped up to the plate. Look forward to seeing more of him.”
Edwards also highlighted one of his favorite rookies, a player he’s been talking up since the Shrine Game last January - DaeSean Hamilton who had seven catches, 47 yards, 1 touchdown - his first in the NFL.
And that touchdown was critical as it came on fourth-and-goal - after three incompletes from Case Keenum on the one-yard line - and gave the Broncos a chance to get back into the game.
“Hamilton getting in the end zone, that was big-time,” Edwards said. “Now he’s getting opportunities to make plays, and he has something important he could do down the stretch. If he’s becomes a legit playmaker, that could help [the Broncos] with some of the decisions they’ll be making in the offseason.”