The San Francisco 49ers preseason didn’t exactly get off to a great start this past weekend with a 34-7 loss on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Niners were outplayed, the offensive line was bullied, and Trey Lance struggled as the Raiders dominated on Sunday night. This week, the 49ers will host the Denver Broncos in Santa Clara, hoping to settle into the preseason a little better with their second opportunity. Trey Lance will likely see significant game time again, while Sam Darnold played the second half in Vegas at the weekend and might see a similar amount of time in the first home game of the preseason.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos Preview
- Date: Saturday, August 19th
- Time: 8:30 PM EST
- TV Channel: Local NFL Network
- Live Stream: NFL+ (US), DAZN (UK & other)
49ers’ Quarterback Conundrum
The San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback situation is unique and thus, difficult to navigate. When Trey Lance was handed the keys to the franchise last season, nobody expected he would play for one week before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 2. Jimmy G then came in, and when he got hurt, the Niners had nowhere left to turn except for 7th round pick Brock Purdy. It was at that moment that the world understood why the franchise wasn’t panicking about putting him on the field. The rookie was more than ready for it.
A Peculiar Situation
The fact that Brock Purdy is now the ‘starting quarterback,’ while earning far less money and coming with far lower expectations than Trey Lance, makes it an odd situation. The franchise is clearly trying to see how Lance fares in a game day situation, possibly serving as a backup this year despite being an early first-round pick that the front office surrendered multiple further picks to draft.
Lance’s Performance Against Raiders
Lance’s struggles were evident in the first preseason game. The offensive line’s domination by the Raiders, resulting in four sacks in the first half, certainly didn’t help. Despite some nice throws and escapes, Lance struggled with interceptions and ill-advised throws. These two remaining preseason games might be his only chance this season to prove himself, as Brock Purdy is currently the better player for the franchise.
Lance’s Career: Chaos and Challenge
You can’t help but feel for the young man. His career as a pro so far has been nothing less than chaotic and extremely unsettling. The season-ending injury cost him his job, and that year playing as the starter might have been what he needed to become the best version of himself. Sadly, the league moves fast, and the job won’t always be there when you make it back. A big performance in preseason Week 2 against the Broncos will work wonders for his confidence, and his career.
Broncos: A New Era
Russell Wilson’s Struggles
Last season was a nightmare for the Denver Broncos, finding themselves the laughing stock of the league during what was supposed to be a very exciting era with Russell Wilson at the helm. Instead, Russ struggled, having his worst year since coming into the league with just 16 touchdown passes.
Coaching Change: Sean Payton’s Arrival
The Nathaniel Hackett era came and went before his very first season in charge was over, and Sean Payton now comes in after taking a short career break with the intention of righting the ship with his own style. Payton’s critical comments about the Hackett era and the stricter regime under his leadership promise a fresh start.
From the first preseason game against the Cardinals, it was clear that Jerry Jeudy is going to be Russell Wilson’s most dangerous receiver this year. Despite some early hiccups, Jeudy’s performance was promising, along with the contributions from Courtland Sutton.
Challenges and Depth
Denver has dealt with adversity offensively, including injuries to Javonte Williams and Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler’s release due to health issues. The remaining two preseason games provide an opportunity for depth players to prove themselves.
Three Players to Watch
Trey Lance – 49ers Quarterback
Trey Lance’s story is one that will be in focus throughout all three 49ers preseason games. Coming off a troubled start to his professional career with injuries and mixed performances, Lance’s future with the franchise seems uncertain. As the Niners’ first-round pick, the organization has high hopes for him, but a lack of consistent playtime has held him back. These preseason games could either make or break him, as a great game could reestablish him as a future star, while a bad one could further diminish his status within the team. Everyone is rooting for this talented young player to do well, and his performance against the Broncos could provide a turning point in his career.
Jerry Jeudy – Broncos Wide Receiver
Jerry Jeudy is another player who will be under the spotlight. Having shown flashes of his potential in college, Jeudy is on the verge of a breakout year. His connection with Russell Wilson and the guidance of a more experienced head coach could unleash a version of Jeudy that the league hasn’t yet seen. With over 2,600 yards and 26 touchdowns in three seasons at Alabama, he’s demonstrated what he can do. The preseason matchup against the Niners’ defense could further boost fans’ excitement for the regular season, especially considering the injuries the Broncos have dealt with. Jeudy’s performance this year could be vital, and he has the potential to be the explosive force in the Broncos’ offense in 2023.
Ronnie Bell – 49ers Wide Receiver
Finally, Ronnie Bell is a name to keep an eye on. After showing up in the preseason opener despite the Niners’ offense struggling to get going, Bell’s potential is starting to surface. Drafted in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL draft, the former Michigan slot receiver could be one of the sleeper picks to make an impact for the 49ers this season. Although Bell didn’t put up astronomical numbers in college, his talent is evident. Leading the team in receiving yards against the Raiders, he caught three balls for 58 yards on the night. Another strong performance against the Broncos will certainly help to solidify his spot on the roster and could mark the beginning of a promising NFL career.
The matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos provides an exciting look into the preseason preparations of both teams. With critical performances needed from key players and opportunities for new faces to shine, this game promises to be a thrilling spectacle that could set the tone for the regular season.