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Broncos Must Win These Key Matchups To Beat Niners

How do the Denver Broncos match up with the San Francisco 49ers?

This week, the Denver Broncos get their second prime-time game of the season on Sunday Night Football against the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams sit with a 1-1 record on the season, and both are coming off of a win in Week 2. 

While the Broncos lost the season opener to the Seattle Seahawks, the Niners made them look terrible in Week 2, emerging victorious, 27-7. Seattle's lone touchdown came on a blocked field goal returned to the house. It was a complete shift from the Week 1 rainstorm game the Niners lost to the Chicago Bears

The Broncos' win came in a game replete with coaching gaffes with an offense that couldn't get anything going (without help from some penalties) until the fourth quarter. It was an ugly victory for a team with high expectations and a win against a team viewed as one of the worst in the NFL. 

The Niners have their issues, but they are viewed as one of the better teams in the NFL. The Broncos cannot show the same problems they did in the first two weeks, especially being 0-for-6 in the red zone when it comes to getting touchdowns, and still walk out with a win in this one. 

There are some vast steps the Broncos must take to emerge from Week 3 at 2-1 instead of 1-2. Before we get to this game's key matchups, let's get the Cliff Notes version of the Niners' young season. 

Takeaways from San Francisco's Two Games

The Niners' offense struggled against the Bears in the season opener. However, it was a rain storm, and San Fran still had a decent running game. The Niners' defense did well, but with how hard it was raining and the state of the field, it was a difficult game to evaluate. 

The Niners followed up the loss by blowing out the Seahawks, where Jimmy Garoppolo relieved an injured Trey Lance, who is out for the season. Garoppolo played well, leading the team to 21 points — 24 if you count his one play on the drive Lance got hurt on that ended with a field goal. 

The Niners' defense looks tough, and they shut down the Seahawks' running game allowing 36 yards on 14 attempts. San Fran has also limited the passing game behind the strength of its pass rush. 

Let's get to the key matchups the Broncos cannot afford to lose in this game. 

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Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) calls out in the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Empower Field at Mile High.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) celebrates after sacking Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium.
Melvin Gordon, Javonte Williams
Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett talks with Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) in the second quarter against the Houston Texans at Empower Field at Mile High.
Denver Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (55) pressures San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) in the first quarter at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb #55 of the Denver Broncos strips the football away from quarterback C.J. Beathard #3 of the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter of a preseason game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on August 19, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. (22) runs with the football against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Mike Jackson (30) during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium.
Denver Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II (2) and strong safety Kareem Jackson (22) break up a pass intended for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan celebrates the victory against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Levi's Stadium.

Bottom Line

Is this a must-win for Denver? Well, this early in the season, it isn't exactly, but at the same time, it is. There is a lot of pessimism about this team with all of the issues it has shown in its two games so far. 

Being able to beat the Niners at home in a prime-time game would do well to turn Broncos fans around. The Niners are a good team, and Denver has struggled against two bad teams that are likely drafting quarterbacks early in 2023. 

Both teams boast good defenses, a solid running game, and a hit-or-miss passing game. That combination could lead to a low-score defensive slugfest where turnovers play a vital role. 

However, both teams can get their passing game going. Jimmy Garoppolo is more consistent than Trey Lance, which should help San Fran's passing offense. While the Broncos also depend on Russell Wilson, but seemingly need everything to click for them. Drops have not helped the Broncos one bit, with five on the season. 

Whether it's a win or a loss for the Broncos, there is a lot more on this game with how the team goes about it. Can Denver clean up its mistakes? 

Can Hackett fix the issues? If the Broncos lose this one but show improvement in that department, optimism may start to return. A lot is riding on this game, not only in the final score, but on the road to getting there. 


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