49ers @ Broncos preseason live blog

This is the live blog for the 49ers’ preseason game against the Broncos. I’ll update this frequently with information and analysis from my living room.

4:23 Read this column on Chip Kelly before today’s game begins.


Translation: If Chip Kelly’s offense performs well against my defense tonight, remember I didn’t game plan this week.

4:34 DeForest Buckner is OUT with a lower-body injury. Is this a planned rest day?

4:38: Also OUT: Arik Armstead. This is all part of the plan, I’m sure.

4:41 The rest of the inactives: Bruce Elllington, DeAndre Smelter and Glenn Dorsey.

4:45 Check out Colin Kaepernick throw passes before the game.

5:01 Broncos CB Aqib Talib and OLB DeMarcus Ware are OUT.

5:32 Ravens QB Josh Johnson is 8-9 for 59 yards and 1 TD tonight against the Colts. Niners could have signed him this offseason.

6:02 Tim Ryan just said he think Blaine Gabbert played well last week. Tough grader.

6:04 Niners win toss and defer.

6:13 Niners give up a 19-yard touchdown run to C.J. Anderson. Inside linebacker Gerald Hodges was out of position on the play. 7-0 Broncos.

6:18 Niners defense gave up five catches on six pass attempts for 55 yards during that drive. Tramaine Brock got beat twice, and Jimmie Ward committed a holding penalty.

6:20 Gabbert throws the ball away on third-and-7.  On second-and-12 he threw a short pass to Vance McDonald’s ankles and McDonald made a nice catch in the flat. Classic Gabbert.

6:27 Chris Davis stops Norwood short of the sticks on third-and-7 from the Broncos’ 48, and Denver punts. Good series for the defense, which improved once Ray Ray Armstrong replaced Hodges.

6:32 Gabbert completes a four-yard pass to Garrett Celek on third-and-7 and the Niners punt. Gabbert was 3-for-4 on that drive with a nice 14-yard completion to Vance McDonald and ugly incomplete pass intended for Carlos Hyde in the flat.

6:38 Niners give up a 12-yard run to Devontae Booker just before the end of the first quarter.

6:39 Trevor Siemian telegraphs a pass to Demaryius Thomas, Eric Reid picks it off and returns it 42 yards for a touchdown. Great play by Reid. Tie game.

6:48 Eli Harold beats the left tackle with speed around the edge and forces Siemien to throw the ball away on second-and-9. Broncos punt two plays later. Bryce Treggs makes a fair catch at the SF 32. Niners will start at their 37 after a penalty on Denver.

6:53 Trent Brown and Andrew Tiller create a huge hole for Carlos Hyde, who scores on second-and-goal from the 4. 14-7 Niners. Gabbert missed an open Vance McDonald downfield on a seam route early in the drive, then hit McDonald over the middle a few plays later.

7:06 Eli Harold is down after Tank Carradine hit him in the side with his helmet.

7:07 Marcus Rush sacks Mark Sanchez on third-an-11 from the Niners’ 20. Broncos kick a field goal. 14-10 Niners.

7:10 Gabbert leaves the game after completing 6-of-9 passes for 69 yards. Jeff Driskel replaces him.

7:15 Marcus Martin gets knocked on his rear end and Mike Davis gets stopped for a loss of one on third-and-2 from the Broncos’ 9. Three plays earlier, Driskel completed a 25-yard pass to Bryce Treggs while taking a big hit. Niners kick a field goal to extend lead to 7.

7:19 Nick Bellore gives up an 11-yard catch just before the 2-minute warning.

7:19 Quick thoughts on Gabbert. He played better tonight, although not much better. A couple of his completions were bad passes.

7:26 Tank Carradine strips Mark Sanchez on first-and-10 from the Niners’ 13. Bellore recovers.

7:26 Next play, Driskel completes a screen pass to Mike Davis and Davis fumbles the ball back to the Broncos.

7:29 Marcus Rush strips Sanchez on third-and-10 and the Niners recover. Rush and Carradine abused Broncos’ backup right tackle Kyle Roberts in the first half.

7:31 Driskel takes a knee before halftime.

7:44 Gabbert made four good throws.

7:47 Mike Davis fumbles for the second time.

7:48 Sanchez throws three straight passes that almost get picked and go three-and-out. I can see why the Broncos start Siemian over him.

7:53 DuJuan Harris runs for seven yards on first-and-10. Erik Pears gives up a sack on third-and-2. Harris probably will make this team. Pears probably will not.

7:58 Garrison Smith sacks Paxton Lynch on third down. Smith has been fantastic. He might make the team over nose tackle Mike Purcell.

8:04 Harris gains six yards on first down. He has 35 rushing yards on six carries. Niners punt a few plays later.

8:06 Rush beats Kyle Roberts yet again to sack Paxton Lynch. Broncos punt.

8:09 Roberts is an undrafted free agent who won’t make a roster.

8:11 Driskel completes a 40-yard pass to Cajuste. Pass of the night.

8:12 Harris fumbles and the Broncos recover. Five fumbles in two preseason games for the 49ers.

8:23 Paxton Lynch leads a 90-yard touchdown drive. He’s legit. 17-17.

8:26 Christian Ponder completes a 5-yard pass to Jerome Simpson on third-and-three just before the end of the third quarter.

8:27 Question: What has Gabbert done to win the starting job?

8:34 Now Ponder leads a 75-yard TD drive. He finishes it with a 22-yard touchdown run on a read-option play. 24-17 Niners.

8:39 Broncos go three-and-out after Bralon Addison drops a well-placed pass on third-and-three.

8:44 Ponder completes a 22-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Dres Anderson. 31-17 Niners. Ponder is 7-8. Driskel was 6-7.

9:00 Lynch leads a 76-yard touchdown drive and finishes it with a four-yard touchdown pass. He is the best quarterback in this game.

9:03 Niners recover the onside kick.

9:08 Lynch sails a pass into the hands of safety Kenneth Acker. Niners win. Stay tuned for grades.

This article has 239 Comments

    1. “I wrote an email to one of my guys. An NFL insider.”

      Maybe LC wrote to our very own TomD? He’s a self proclaimed NFL insider.

  1. Inactives:

    The San Francisco 49ers announced who will not play in their preseason matchup with the Denver Broncos. The list includes QB Colin Kaepernick, WR Bruce Ellington, WR DeAndre Smelter, DT Glenn Dorsey, DT Arik Armstead, DT DeForest Buckner.

    Think they’re keeping Armstead and Buckner out to preserve them for the season?

    1. Was hoping to see more of D Forest.
      Tonight I’ll be looking at our safeties and what they are doing in passing and running downs. Next I’ll be curious to see who emerges as a threat on kickoff and kick returns on ST.

  2. 1st team defense looks good. Coverage not surprisingly is an issue. Corners continue to give too much cushions giving up easy come back routes for first down. Bethea running around looking like a rookie.

  3. What are you talking about. Ward did not get thrown at one time on the first drive.. It’s Brock that is getting abused.. Wake up man!

    1. you better watch that again. Ward gave such a cushion that he gave up the 1st down before Brock gave up his first down.

  4. Seb should be happy. So far they have run from the 4 WR set and Celek took his advice for McDonald about falling down as soon as he catches it (pity it was short of the 1st down).

    1. Hopefully he sees the futility in those plays and you shouldn’t encourage him. I was pretty sure this week wouldn’t be a great one to evaluate the offense. Can’t believe how dominant Wolfe is.

  5. I thought Gabbert did a nice job on that drive. Ugly field position to start and he got us breathing room. Not bad.

  6. 49ers WRs continuing their role as decoys. No wonder they didn’t draft or sign anyone of note. They just need to keep the CBs occupied!

  7. “Gabbert missed an open Vance McDonald downfield on a seam route”.

    Looked more like McDonald dropped it to me.

    1. Agree, Scooter. Vance should have made that catch. But earlier he made a nice catch on a low pass and has looked relatively good so far this preseason.

    2. Nah, Scooter it was like Kaep’s pass in the Atlanta game, too flat and over the wrong shoulder. Not sure it was catchable.

          1. The pass was a fraction off, and a very tight window. No big deal.

            I’ve been replaying Blaine’s entire set up, arm slot/release, and I have no idea what Grant is talking about. It’s been almost mechanical in terms of consistency.

            What’s up with that Grant?

            1. I only saw it once, but I thought that VMac could have changed the angle of his arms so that the ball would hit him more in the hands. But of course you only have a tenth or so of a second to make that decision. Blaine looked pretty accurate tonight.

    3. Terribly placed pass McDonald had to lunge to touch with the tip of a finger. Tim Ryan said it would have been a great catch.

      1. Grant I don’t usually defend Gabbert but there was an awfully small window to get that ball in and there was no chance MacDonald could have caught that ball.

        1. McDonald had inside leverage on the defender. He was open. There was a clear throwing lane. Gabbert just missed the throw. Way too far away from McDonald’s frame.

    1. Listening on the radio. Any idea where in the midsection Harold got hit? Belly? Groin? Ribs? Hope he’s OK.

  8. It’s so easy to get over excited about the 2’s. We’re going to have three good runners this year and Driskell is catching up to the NFL speed.

    1. Rush has a shot to make the team originally, I would honestly consider him over Lemonier. Rush cis a bit undersized, but he’s speedy around the edge, and can be used as a pass rusher, cover OLB specialist!

      Has Lemonier even played this preseason? He’s the invisible man!

    2. OldCoach – That’s 3 sacks for Rush. Could you please give up on some other key players? You get to choose. ;)

      Seriously, I hope Rush makes it. Good talent spot.

  9. Imagine if Kap comes back and looks good running this offense next week? In a word …. options boys…… options at QB!

  10. Old Coach, nice call on Rush. You been pushing for him for the last couple years. Nice job he looks like a keeper. Nice first half by both QBs. They both improved from week 1 to week 2.. Really nice to see!

  11. 1st half stat.

    49ers QB Rating – 97.6
    Denver QB Rating – 75.7

    Astonishing the world champs find themselves in that position!

    1. I’m enjoying the anguish over on Mile High Report. Those Broncos fans were so damn arrogant after that first practice.

      1. Not just the fans, all the media too. It would be good for us to remember their 1’s aren’t on the field. I am enjoying the hand ringing and gnashing of teeth though.

  12. Hard to believe Eric Pears was a starters as recently as last year. Who’s been talking about the 49ers having a decent OL last season? Give me a break. Pears, Martin, the slouch from NE, I mean really?

        1. Maybe or maybe many of the sacks were caused by the QB’s like the 4 BG gave up on his own to Cleveland or the many CK gave up because he didn’t deliver the ball quickly. Or as Jack said, Staley, Brown and Tiller’s performances could have skewed the rest of the lines grading etc. Or there’s a problem with their formula. Doesn’t change that BG’s no Smith. Why don’t you come back in 3-5 years and see how BG’s career goes?

            1. Nice try 49, you’re the one who made all this about Smith vs. BG in the previous thread. I don’t think BG will ever make it to the level of play Smith is at.

              1. No, I said Alex Smith is nothing but a “noodle armed” (Bleacher Reports words actually, not mine) game manager, who has to be coddled and have a perfect situation around him in order to have any success!

                Like I said Wilson, you must have missed the 2005-2010 49ers. Apparently you are either new as a fan, or took a half a decade off!

              2. No I suffered through those years and you are turning a blind eye to the Jags fans celebrating BG’s departure.

  13. Kaepernick wins by not playing, right Grant? Blah, blah, bologna~!

    Unless Kap comes out next week and lights it up, Chip would be sending the wrong message to his team by starting Kap week one, don’t you think?

      1. And move the offense. That’s about 12 completions and 220 yards more than Kap! Oh, and the 49ers were winning both games before he departed!

        1. I guess winning doesn’t matter/ He’s had the team in the lead when he left both ?games, hasn’t he? Shi’s Grant, very silly stuff!

          1. Well if your going to use your theory of winning you might want to look at his career winning percentage compared to Kaeps. Not good.

          1. Talking up a guy to start – a guy who hasn’t played a down in the pre-season and stunk up the joint last season is the bar right there on the ground.

  14. I thought Gabbert did a decent job tonight. I don’t think he won the job tonight. He deserves to be ahead right now. If Kaep plays well next week it can get interesting. We’ll see…. Not too bad tonight though.

    1. Yes, but can we agree RAW, Grant’s notion that Kap’s going to win this job by default, sitting on the sideline, with “arm fatigue”, is nothing but poppycock?

      1. Yes your right if Kaep doesn’t play he won’t play. I also think he has to take the job away from Gabbert. Gabbert is ahead!

          1. And even then, if Blaine plays well again next week, Chip would be sending the wrong message to the team Grant. He won’t make that mistake. Better to keep Kap as insurance in case Blaine struggles.

              1. Yes, but they don’t want their QB simply HANDED the job. That’s the worst message you could possibly send right now, as a new HC!

              2. Grant, I agree. Kaep needs to play, but in the Chip Kelly system with that improved O line, he will come storming back.

  15. So Ryan is quoting A.Peterson as saying ‘Ponder just needs to calm down.’
    Earlier today the announcers said of Tolzein ‘He’s too hyper. He needs to calm down.’

  16. Niners will go at least 8-8 because the defense and OL are much improved. The coaching is better and Kelly is rocking it. Signed, a most decent Cabernet…

      1. I think what Grant is saying is that with a much improved line and a back like Hyde we need to see more from Gabbert. Hyde was the key to the TD DRIVE tonight. Although Gabbert had some nice plays too.

      2. Nothing, he’s right on schedule from what I have seen and heard. Room to improve? Yes. It’s preseason game number 2, and your asking what’s taking Gabbert so long to get comfortable in this offense? Really? Is that really where you’re going Grant?

      3. Well, let’s not forget that Gabbert played against their first string defense – one of the best in the league. Ponder, an experienced 6 year QB is playing against a poor 3rd string defense. Having said that I think Ponder did well given that he’s only been with the team for a few days.

      4. You said yourself Grant, tonight would be a good gauge first a top defense. Well, now it’s not? You so confuse me bro!

    1. Pump the brakes guys, he’s playing against guys who’ll be watching the season on their couches. Chip’s system has merit for sure.

      1. I agree.

        But so was Paxton Lynch.
        Despite that, Grant thought that one drive against mostly UDFA was good validation to call him legit.

        It’s preseason.
        Overraction is in the air.
        You can feel it.

    1. Who saw it coming? No offense but anyone whose seen a preseason game before. Let’s chat again in say October.

      1. I’ve been telling everyone on this blog IT’S A FRICKEN QB FRIENDLY SYSTEM GUYS, why is that so hard to understand?

        1. Everyone on this blog seems to not understand the difference Chip’s system makes for QB’s. The reads are simplified, but still not easy to predict.

          1. You’re starting to sound like Seb assuming what people understand. Everyone understands, lots of us think the offense will be much better and a few of us want to see how it works when the games actually count and we play against teams 1’s for 4Q’s.

            It’s ok to have some excitement after that last two years.

            1. Then watch Chip’s first 2 seasons in Philli before he depleted the offensive roster and had massive injuries in year 3.

              May I remind you Nick Foles threw 27 TD’s to 3 TD;s in 13 games.

              1. 49, us optimists can crow this week, but Chip will probably rip his team for so many mistakes and unforced errors.

                Taylor running out of bounds was inexcusable, and I hope his dad, Fred, spanks him.

    2. Well, since Denver shut out their first opponent, I thought the Niners would be fortunate to at least score.This has been a pleasant surprise.

  17. This week will be fun on the blog. A new Ponder Clique will emerge with many vociferous champions. Which personalities will step forward to carry the banner?
    Getchyer popcorn ready.

    1. What will be fun this week is listening to the Denver media eat crow over all the crap they talked about how bad the 49ers were. They’ll be a lot of hand wringing and second guessing. In the end their D is still amazing.

      1. This game proved to me that Denver is thin on talent because of all the FAs leaving. It also proved to me that the Niners have good depth, and there will be several gut wrenching decisions over the bubble players.

  18. I’ve been telling everyone on this blog IT’S A FRICKEN QB FRIENDLY SYSTEM GUYS, why is that so hard to understand?

    1. Remember this would be a different game had their 1’s played 4Q’s. It’s preseason. Our offense only scored when they subbed some of their 2’s in.

      1. Reaching how? You’re so jacked on a preseason game you can’t see straight.

        Talib and Ware weren’t playing. When we scored Wolfe and the other DL starters we on the bench. Use your eyes man. How did our 1’s fair against their 1’s? Not well.

          1. Anyone who thinks Alex Smith would be any better than Blaine Gabbert, in this offense, wasn’t around for 2005-2010! That’s all I am saying! Alex has a noodle fricken arm. Now, you may have a gripe about Gabbert, and that’s fine. But Alex is a game manager at best, and if you don’t know that Wilson, then you don’t know NFL football. Just saying!

            1. Whoa did slow down on the Redbull’s and Rockstars there bud. We’ve got enough self proclaimed experts without you jumping into he delusional pool of self grandeur with them.

              Like I said come back in 5 years and see if Gabberts still a starting QB in the NFL then you can make your case. AS is a mediocre starting QB, BG isn’t even that.

              Till then watch this. https://youtu.be/HNywsOs5ABU

  19. Gonna be a lot of boo boys disappointed with today’s outing.

    Also going to be a lot of overreacting to the win by those with a rosier view.

    Reality is we only got to see a few drives with the 1s. Both sides of the ball had some good and some bad on those drives.

    Could be interesting to see how the D goes against a top QB though. Siemian looked pretty good early, but that was a very well scripted first drive. Pass D played a lot better after that, but the Broncos QBs aren’t exactly the benchmark.

    1. Hey, one test at a time. I call this a Pass.
      P3 presents a few new twists.
      Ya know, watching Newberry on the post game, he’s like some old Top Sergeant when he watches these young players talk on camera. Cracks me up.

    2. Niners look real good against the SB Champs. Several players stood out, like Reid, Rush and Smith. Defense was stout.They had a pass rush. The O line did well. I am not pondering about Ponder, I am cheering.

      However, there were way too many turnovers, They will need to work on ball security. Bethea and Mike Davis did not shine. Taylor went brain dead.Even though they put up 31 points, they could have scored even more. Way too many mental mistakes and unforced errors.

      Still, this win was huge. Looks like Chip has righted the ship.

    3. True, but there starting defense is.

      All I am saying is I really hope people tamp down all the negativity and quit hating on Blaine!

      Might I remind everyone a certain HOP left handed QB started his career on a really bad team and didn’t play very well. He went to a good team (well great actually), developed for a bit, and became great. His name is steve Young. I’m not saying Blaine is Steve Young, but I am saying STOP with all the unnecessary hate for your supposed favorite team!

      1. If you recorded the game, slow down all of Blaine’s passes in slow motion. Watch his release and arm slot and then tell me Grant isn’t EXAGERATING! I dare you!

        I have. He was almost mechanical tonight. Same release, same slot save for one pass. By the way guys, good QB’s need to to be able to change their slot when necessary!

      2. 49, I do not hate Gabbert at all, and if he starts, I plan on rooting for him. However, he does have flaws, and they showed up again. Throwing short of the sticks is a recipe for defeat, and he was not spot on accurate. He also needs to work on his deception. I thought he telegraphed that he was going to hand off, instead of making the defense guess who will have the ball.

        Still I totally agree with you that the negativity on this site was over the top. Now that we have Chip and his system, the Niners will be better than last year.

      3. Blaine is not a good QB, he has never been a good QB and when there is no reason to be excited about a player, negativity tends to creep in. He’s not suddenly going to become a good QB, regardless of Kelly’s system. Kaepernick will likely be gone after this season, yet the thought of seeing a healthy Kaepernick in Kelly’s system is more intriguing for many people because of the perceived fit. Neither are exciting options, neither provide hope for the future and I don’t think either would make a significant difference in the teams record. Blaine’s play reminds me of Shaun Hill. I thought Kaepernick should have been traded.

  20. I’m beginning to think my prediction is going to be spot on. Great improvement along the O and D lines as well as the defensive backfield this season. Then a return to the playoffs in 17.

  21. As poorly as Gabbert and Kaepernick have performed, I believe had Ponder been here for the start of camp, he would be the starting 49ers QB. Chip Kelly does not need a Manning Brother to be successful. He found success with Sanchez and with Foles. He was also successful with Bradford. The competency he needs at QB is very minimal. Ponder just may be that guy week 3.

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