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Broncos vs. 49ers Film Review: Week 3

Breaking down the tape from the Denver Broncos 11-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.

Denver Broncos vs San Francisco 49ers Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images


The Denver Broncos did it, they managed to beat a team that isn’t an NFL bottom feeder! While Jimmy Garoppolo played an incredibly poor game, and the Denver offense is still woeful as ever; the Broncos, the defense, and Coach Nathaniel Hackett deserve credit for beating an incredibly well coached and talented roster.

San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan is one of the premier offensive play-callers in the league and his offense was limited to 10 points. His running attack which is heralded league-wide as near unstoppable was held to only 88 yards on the day. The introduction of new Game Management coach, Jerry Rosburg, seemed to go smoothly as there was a noticeable drop in pre snap confusion, uncertainty on 4th downs, and penalties (though I will say we did see a decent number of cowardly decisions throughout the game). We even saw Russell begin to utilize some of his magic when extending plays, especially on the touchdown drive that eventually gave Denver the lead.

It wasn’t all roses and sunshine, but this game left me with the most belief in a postseason run of any of the games we’ve seen thus far.

The team isn’t yet being carried on the back of Russell Wilson and Co. like we all might have anticipated, but instead relying on something Broncos Country knows all too well.

A top-5 defense in the NFL.

I can’t emphasize enough how well this defensive group played, with seemingly every starter at all levels of the defense having a standout game. The guys in the trenches created havoc all night and behind them were players such as Josey Jewell, and Patrick Surtain cleaning up anything that made it past the LOS.

So allow me to show you just how great of games Josey Jewell, Mike Purcell, Randy Gregory, and Patrick Surtain had.

Patrick Surtain II

Guys, I think Patrick Surtain is the best corner in the NFL.

This may sound like a hot take but the numbers do not lie. Throughout 3 games Surtain has been tasked with covering DK Metcalf, Nico Collins, and Deebo Samuel/Brandon Aiyuk (one of these is not like the other) and he has delivered as well as anyone.

Through 3 games PS2 has been targeted 14 times… and he’s given up 45 yards.


The first two weeks he received the benefit of playing two below average QBs (even though Geno looked like Steve Young in that game) but this week against a widely considered average starter in Jimmy, Surtain was targeted 6 times and didn’t give up a single reception. No corner has done this since 2001.

Ejiro Evero is weaponizing Surtain and it is glorious to watch; using him to erase teams #1 wideouts, allowing him to play more press man, and sending more 5-man pressure looks forcing teams to test his coverage downfield.

PS2’s ability in press is maybe the best in the entire league and last week was no exception. Repeatedly disrupting Deebo/Aiyuk’s routes to the point where they became non options in the passing game.

He’s equally impressive in off-coverage where his patience is on full display. It’s not typical for a CB with as little NFL experience as PS2 has, to handle the myriad of double-moves, and weird route combinations he sees as well as he does. He’s never caught off balance and erases any space between him and receivers in an instant with his absurd change of direction speed.

He’s also 6’2 and plays like it, meeting receivers at the peak of their catchpoint and knocking passes away clean with precision timing and accuracy in his swats.

The Patrick Surtain II shutdown tour continues this week in Vegas against who many consider to be the best receiver/separator in the entire league… Davante Adams.

Mike Purcell

This was a different Mike Purcell than we’ve seen in recent years. He was everywhere.

As I’ve mentioned San Francisco is well known for their impressive rushing attack but Mike Purcell was having none of that constantly knocking centers and guards off their spots and making plays in the backfield.

When he had the chance to make a hit, he laid multiple massive shots on Deebo and Jeff Wilson.

The explosiveness off the ball and sheer strength Purcell showed off has felt absent since his standout 2019 season, but it is a welcome reunion for a Denver front bolstered with the additions of D.J. Jones, and Randy Gregory.

Purcell made his two biggest plays of the evening with Denver down and San Francisco backed up at their own 2-yard line. On 1st and 10 they attempt to run duo to give them some cushion from the back of their own endzone. Purcell and Dre’Mont both won their matchups with Purcell nuking Aaron Banks backwards and Dre climbing beyond Kyle Juszczyk for the combined tackle, and gain of 0.

On 2nd and 10, from his own 2 Shanahan decides to run some boot, headed towards Mike Purcell, Randy Gregory, and DeShawn Williams. (Insert Bold Strategy Cotton meme)

Purcell sniffed it out immediately, not even lunging towards the ball carrier on initial snap. Instead he works left, introduces Spencer Burford to the NFL with the nasty swim and screams downhill towards Jimmy forcing him to pull a classic “Orlovsky” stepping out of the back of his own endzone for the safety.

If Purcell can consistently provide this level of play, Denver’s base 3-4 package or penny package (which utilize a 5 man front which features him and the Joneses with Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory off the edge) could be the best in the entire NFL.

Josey Jewell

The Outlaw is back in business. Josey Jewell has long been one of the most underrated members of the defense and Sunday was a perfect example as to why.

He’s smart, makes the right reads, and hits holes/players very hard. Just like Purcell the reintroduction of Jewell into this defense saw the run defense playing at an entirely different level. He’s not the flashiest sideline to sideline tackler and won’t blow you away with athleticism, but he takes on blocks as well as any linebacker in the league and rarely gives up yards after contact.

Evero is also utilizing Jewell in ways we hadn’t seen often under Fangio, being used as blitzer and free runner that RB’s typically have to deal with. Sunday night he was sent rushing the passer 3 times, he generated pressures on all 3 plays and even came away with a sack.

Most RBs (Jeff Wilson especially) can’t handle the physicality and strength Jewell possesses which results in massive collisions, with multiple offensive players on the ground and Jewell in hot pursuit of the ball carrier.

He isn’t a liability in coverage but we did see him manned up on Deebo a couple times resulting in one big completion. This is the result of Shanahan using motion well to create a mismatch, but regardless hopefully that situation doesn’t happen too many more times this season.

Randy Gregory

Randy Gregory deserves an apology. Too many in Broncos Country didn’t recognize the amount of talent George Paton brought in with this signing and were too hung up on Von Miller.

Through 3 games Randy Gregory has been a top-10 (7th) pressure generator in the league, embarrassing tackles left and right, racking up sacks, and generating multiple forced fumbles.

Sunday was no different as Randy had arguably his best game of the season with 6 total pressures, a sack, and 3 run-stops.

He is simply built different. With one of the deepest bags of tricks of every pass rusher in the league. The size, power, speed, motor, bend, it’s all there. He is without a doubt one of the best pass-rushers in the league when he is on the field.

When legendary left tackle Trent Williams went down with an ankle injury and the backup came in, it was Randy who took immediate advantage with an inside move and hand swipe leaving an unhindered path between Gregory and Jimmy G.

Mike McGlinchey had a tough day against Gregory getting beaten with finesse, committing a hold, and getting planted in the ground like a tree on a Gregory bull rush. Tight ends can’t deal with him in the run game, and we’re seeing Ejiro Evero align him everywhere on the defense creating confusion and easy pressure opportunities.

Randy Gregory brings a different attitude to this Broncos defense. A “mess around and find out” type of composure that invites offenses to test him and the rest of the talented Denver defense. He’ll run you down, he’ll beat your blocker, and he’ll put you in the dirt… hard. That’s the energy this Denver defense brings every week. This is the best Broncos D we’ve witnessed since the Sheriff was in town back in 2015 and I believe they have the ability to carry this team to a playoff berth while Russell and the offense figure things out.

Broncos games are becoming semi-watchable again (at least for a masochist like me who thrives watching good defenses) and it’s in no small part due to the defensive talent George Paton has collected, and the incredible defensive coaching of Ejiro Evero.