Week 3 of the Preseason is when a team usually puts out its best foot forward to see what they got for the regular season. After this one, Niner fans are certainly hoping their team was holding back.
In a 49ers win over the Broncos in Mile High, the first team on both sides of the ball look sloppy and outmatched by a Peyton Manning led Broncos team. While Alex Smith was having trouble getting first downs on his first two drives or even just getting a snap right, Peyton Manning took over leading the Broncos down field for a FG by Matt Prater and then two Touchdown passes to Eric Decker on his second and third drive of the game. A Manning led offense put up 17 points against one of the best defenses in the entire NFL and that was just the first quarter. He might’ve put up more if he didn’t come out of the game after the third Broncos drive.
As mentioned, Alex Smith struggled on the first two drives settling for a three and out and then ending the second on a fumble in during a snap exchange which was recovered by Broncos Linebacker Wesley Woodyard. That actually set up the 2nd TD pass from Manning.
It wasn’t all a disappointment, however, for Smith and the first squad. After a failed surprise onside kick from the Broncos that didn’t travel the mandatory ten yards, Smith hooked up with Vernon Davis down the line for a 44 yard TD pass near the end of the first quarter. It was Davis’ only catch of the game.
Smith was only in the game for two more drives one of which led to a 33 yard David Akers FG as Colin Kaepernick came into the game with under a minute to go in the half.
Meanwhile, the presumed backup to Peyton Manning, Caleb Hanie, came into the game and looked like he could lead the first squad. Despite a INT to Perrish Cox start the 2nd quarter, he managed to rebound eventually throwing a TD pass to Joel Dreessen for five yards at the end of his third drive leaving just 26 ticks in the first half.
The 2nd half featured even more back ups fighting for a spot on the roster. The back up offensive players pulled their weight managing to score 19 second half points. The only TD of the half was scored on the first drive with a 26 yard rushing TD by Anthony Dixon looking to make a roster spot. He seems to help his cause getting 58 yards on 13 carries in the game.
The next four drives by the 49ers led by Colin Kaepernick, Scott Tolzien, and Josh Johnson, all led to Field Goals that gave the 49ers the lead for good. None of these QB’s seemed to have any great highlights to speak of themselves as they seem to all be scrambling for yards and overthrowing receivers on deep routes. The exception might be one play from Kaepernick who avoided a sack by spinning left and throwing a 16 yard pass to Konrad Reuland.
On defense, the 49er back ups managed to hold their own against Denver’s own offensive relief squad. After giving up 265 total yards in the first half, the 49ers held the Broncos to just 83 total yards in the 2nd half. In fact, they held Denver to just 4 first downs for the 3rd and 4th quarter. The Broncos didn’t get any 2nd half points.
On other notes, the 49ers managed to avoid injury scares last week and another one this week. Ted Ginn Jr. came up limping after making a 9 yard gain on a option play. The 49ers are reporting, however, that x-rays were negative on Ginn’s ankle. Thankfully, no major injuries yet for the team.
Though the trip to Mile High ended in a win, there are still troubling signs for the 49ers on both sides of the ball. While there hasn’t been much to expect on offense, the defense still looks confused against a solid passing attack. It was a great learning experience for that defensive team (to spin things in the best of light) as Manning, who seems to be hitting his stride, picked apart the 49ers going 10/12 with 122 yards and those two TD passes mentioned earlier.
As for Alex Smith, still a work in progress despite the receivers added during the off-season. He was only 5/7 with 69 yards and that one TD pass to Davis. Unless the 49ers are indeed not showing all their cards, look for more “Game Management” from Alex Smith when the regular season begins in two weeks vs. the Packers.
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Written by Daniel Trucios