The Denver Broncos are meeting up to face off against the San Francisco 49ers for the first time since 2018. The last time these teams met the 49ers came out with a 20-14 win over the Broncos, with Nick Mullens leading the way. It was a real coming-out party for George Kittle. He absolutely torched the Broncos and he finished the game with seven catches for 210 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos offensively just could not make up any ground either. Case Keenum struggled, while Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman could not move the ball at all on the ground.
This time around the 49ers are a completely different team. In 2018, they had one of the worst records and picked Nick Bosa with the second overall pick in the draft.
Looking back on the 2021 49ers
The 49ers took what they did in 2020 and ran with it heading into the 2021 season, but they did finish 10-7 and third in the stacked NFC West but they still made the playoffs where they upset the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers then met NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams where they put up a close battle but unfortunately fell to the eventual Super Bowl champs.
Deebo Samuel was by far one of the most impressive players from 2021. He had 77 catches for 1,405 yards, and six touchdowns, but he was also the 49ers' second-leading rusher with 365 yards and five touchdowns. Offensively Trent Williams had one of if not the best seasons as an offensive lineman, with over 900 snaps played he had 7 penalties and only one sack allowed. He also had one of the highest PFF grades as an offensive line ever at 97.8.
Defensively Fred Warner and Nick Bosa were by leaps and bounds the best players, Warner, who is regarded as the best middle linebacker in the league, had 137 tackles, four pass breakups, and one forced fumble. Bosa tore it up during the season with a mind-blowing 15.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles.
The 49ers' defense was one of the best in the NFL last year, they ranked top ten in virtually every stat besides average yards per play. On the other hand, though, don’t count out their offense as they had one of the best rushing attacks in the league with Elijah Mitchell and Samuel.
List of the 49ers' offseason moves
Key Losses: D.J. Jones, K’uwan Williams, Dee Ford, Alex Mack, Trey Lance, Elijah Mitchell
Key additions: Ray-Ray McCloud, Charvarious Ward, Drake Jackson
49ers 2022 Draft: second-round (61) DL Drake Jackson, third-round (93) RB Tyrion Davis-Price, (105) WR Danny Gray, fourth-round (134) OL Spencer Burford, fifth-round (172) CB Samuel Womack III, sixth-round (187) OL Nick Zakelj, (220) DL Kalia Davis, (221) CB Tariq Castro-Davis, seventh-round (262) QB Brock Purdy
Note: Both Mitchell and Lance are currently injured and will not play Sunday night
The 2022 season so far
The 49ers kicked off their year against the Chicago Bears in horrible weather with many pieces struggling for the 49ers and even though the Bears got outplayed came out with the upset at home against the 49ers. The next week the 49ers looked to bounce back against the Seattle Seahawks even though they had lost Trey Lance early in the game Jimmy Garoppolo came in and led the 49ers to a 20-point win.
With two starters out for the 49ers they’ve looked to their depth to help them, Jeff Wilson had an amazing game with 84 yards on the ground in the win against the Seahawks.
Tanner’s three keys to winning
1. Limit penalties
25 penalties in two games is absolutely ridiculous. The Broncos have allowed a mind-blowing 206 yards in only two games. Nine first downs by penalties which is 26% of all the first downs the Broncos have allowed all year. The Broncos have to absolutely do better it is awful having 25 in two games, the Broncos have to stay disciplined in the game if they are wanting to win the 49ers are very good penalties that can make or break drives.
2. Let Russ cook
The Broncos need to put full trust in Wilson, and let him take shots. Wilson did have a rough first half of the game against the Texans. Wilson did do better in the second half but he does need to do better overall, he needs to stay calm set his feet, and make the right decision. We know what Wilson can do he just needs to show it.
3. Nathaniel Hackett needs to step up
Hackett is only two games into his head coaching career, but his first two games have been a struggle. Hackett has not managed the games well, is really indecisive, and wastes time thinking. I know it is still very early into his career and I hope this is only growing pains but the two games have been bad for the Broncos, to beat a team looking to win a Super Bowl will take a full team effort.
My heart wants to say that the Broncos will be able to pull it out in a hard-fought win, but my mind says the 49ers are going to win.
The 49ers' defense will be a handful to deal with and I have not seen enough from the Broncos to say that they’ll win. We struggled against the Texans and the Seahawks and I think the 49ers will be able to get everything to click. It is very possible that the Broncos won’t see Patrick Surtain II and Jerry Jeudy and if they do not play that will be a massive loss.
I think it will be a long game, unfortunately.
Denver 10, San Francisco 31.