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Broncos see halftime lead over 49ers evaporate into a 24-15 defeat

The Denver Broncos first-team offense and defense looked regular season ready against the San Francisco 49ers, but depth could be a concern.

NFL: Preseason-San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos first-team offense and defense were strong against the San Francisco 49ers early, but a second half surge by the reserve units carried the day for the visiting team. Denver fell to 1-2 in the preseason after seeing their 9-3 halftime lead turn into a 24-15 loss to the 49ers on Monday night.

Denver lost the opening coin toss and the 49ers elected to take the ball first. That turned out to be a mistake as Bradley Chubb converged on Jimmy Garoppolo who made a poor pass that was intercepted by Isaac Yiadom to immediately set the Broncos offense up with good field position.

Emmanuel Sanders showed he was back to full strength with a reception and an end around to put Denver in a goal line situation. They couldn’t convert, but it was a good start for both the first-team offense and defense.

Chubb abused six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley to put the pressure on early in this game. He almost forced a pick six for De’Vante Bausby who dropped what would have been an easy run to the end zone.

All this happened in the first five and a half minutes of the game.

The Broncos defense utterly smothered the 49ers offense throughout the first quarter while it was starters versus starters. The 49ers first-team offense had just one first down. Jimmy G was 1/6 for 0 yards and an interception on three first quarter possessions.

One thing that seems to be something that is carrying over from last year is how often Garett Bolles holds and costs the Broncos offense a lot of yards. A huge 45-yard reception by Emmanuel Sanders was negated by this one late in the first quarter:

The Broncos offense ended up punting with a 3-0 lead as both teams’ starting offensive units were done for the day at that point.

The first-team defense for the Broncos played into the second quarter. Chubb got himself a strip-sack before his night was over too. Even though the 49ers recovered, the offense was rattled and out of sync the entire time the Broncos first-team defense was on the field. The Broncos gave up just 2.1 yards per play against the 49ers first-team offense.

Rookie Drew Lock got his first chance in this game early in the second quarter. In his first series under center, Lock made a few good throws and moved the ball well against the 49ers first-team defense.

Lock led the offense to a 13-play 57 yard drive that ended in a field goal to extend the Broncos lead to 6-0. Lock was 4/5 for 24 yards on the drive and ate up over 8 minutes on the clock.

Late in the second quarter after a 49ers field goal drive, Lock ran the 2-minute offense well - converting on a couple of third downs with some good decision-making on those throws. Things went well until they crossed midfield, then Lock kind of started to lapse into throwing off his backfoot on a few incomplete passes. Penalties aided the drive, though, and set up Brandon McManus with a 52-yard field goal to send the Broncos up 9-3 at halftime.

Drew Lock’s night ended soon after the second half began with a hand injury, which brought in Kevin Hogan and a lot of guys on both sides of the ball fighting for a roster spot.

The 49ers third and fourth stringers controlled the game from then on out, but one of the brighter spots for the Broncos came in the form of rookie wide receiver Juwann Winfree who made some good plays with Hogan at quarterback.

While the Broncos first team offense continues to struggle in the red zone, it is encouraging to see how well they move the ball with Flacco in under center. That will be the most important thing to watch for in the next, and most important, preseason game.