This is the live blog for the 49ers 2023 preseason home opener against the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. I will provide updates and analysis throughout the game.
4:15 Here is what to look for in tonight’s game.
5:05 All signs point to Brock Purdy making the start tonight. The quarterback went through pregame warmups along with most of the 49ers offensive starters. George Kittle, Trent Williams and Christian McCaffrey will not play.
Fred Warner and the 49ers staring defense look ready to play tonight as well. Broncos head coach Sean Payton is expected to play his starters for about 25 snaps tonight.
5:33 Broncos won the toss and deferred. Brock Purdy and the 49ers offense will get the ball first.
5:44 Brock Purdy looks like the guy who led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game last year. The quarterback hits four of his first five attempts for 65 yards but the drive stalls deep in Broncos territory when Ty Davis-Price whiffs on a pass block resulting in a sack.
Jake Moody makes the field goal, his first after missing two in Las Vegas.
5:47 Rookie JiAyir Brown making the start tonight in place of Tashaun Gipson at safety.
5:49 The 49ers defensive front parts like the Red Sea and Russell Wilson takes off up the middle for a gain of 17. We’ve seen this story before.
5:55 San Francisco defense holds. Good coverage by Ambry Thomas on a deep shot from Wilson to Jerry Jeudy results in an incompletion.
Brett Maher comes on and connects from 48 yards out. Game is tied at three.
6:01 Sam Darnold replaces Purdy and it’s a quick three and out.
Playing behind the 49ers starting offensive line, Darnold gets the ball out quick to Jordan Mason to beat a blitz on second down. On third and five he throws incomplete to Ronnie Bell. The rookie wideout was well covered on a curl to the left side.
The 49ers offensive line has not been able to generate any push in the run game in the first two series.
6:10 Isaiah Oliver with a shot to end the Broncos drive on third down, but the free agent acquisition misses the tackle. Oliver’s spot on the 49ers roster is starting to look shaky.
6:13 Following the Oliver miss, T.Y. McGill gets to Jarrett Stidham for a sack. A nice play by JiAyir Brown to force a screen back inside leads to third down and the Broncos cannot convert. Maher hits his second field goal to give Denver a three point lead.
McGill is playing with the second unit alongside Kevin Givens. No sign of Javon Kinlaw, he missed practice on Thursday and is not dressed tonight.
6:24 Jason Poe and Jon Feliciano get called for holding on the 49ers second drive with Sam Darnold. The hold by Feliciano wiped out a completion from Darnold to Jennings over the middle to beat a Broncos blitz. The drive ends when Josey Jewell comes unblocked off the left side and drops the quarterback for a sack.
6:28 Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant get good pressure on Jarrett Stidham. The pressure forces Stidham into the pocket where Marlon Davidson collects the sack. Ferrell has looked explosive off the edge a couple times tonight.
Taylor Hawkins with a nice open field tackle to stop a screen set up the passing situation.
6:42 It looked like Sam Darnold could have set his feet and throw on third and 14, instead he takes off up the middle and is dropped well short.
6:46 Isaiah Oliver playing the entire first half is not a good sign.
On the final play of the half, a busted coverage by Ambry Thomas leads to a 50 yard pass down the left sideline, but the receiver is dropped at the one and Denver is unable to get a snap off to stop the clock.
7:05 Rookie wideout Ronnie Bell looking good tonight in the return game. He had a 25 yard kickoff return in the first half and just returned a punt 28 yards to set the offense up at the 35. Sam Darnold remains in at quarterback.
7:09 No more saying nice things about Bell. Sam Darnold’s third down pass hits him in the hands but the ball bounces out and into the hands of Broncos cornerback Essang Bassey for an interception.
7:18 T.Y. McGill with the hit on Stidham resulting in a near interception for linebacker Marcelino McCrary-Ball. McGill is having himself a nice game.
7:26 Sam Darnold gives San Francisco the lead with a 10-yard touchdown throw to Jack Colletto.
The drive opened with a completion to rookie tight end Cameron Latu for a gain of eight. This was big considering Latu has struggled to hold on to the ball during camp.
Ronnie Bell also had a 21-yard reception over the middle. Nice bounce back for Bell after he let the previous target go through his hands leading to an interception.
Jake Moody misses the PAT. That is now three misses for the rookie kicker.
7:33 Tre Swilling with tight coverage leading to an incompletion on third down. Undrafted rookie free agent D’Shawn Jamison muffs the punt and Denver recovers deep in 49ers territory. Myles Hartsfield then misses a tackle in the open field and Jaleel McLaughlin takes it into the endzone. Denver now leads 13-9.
7:45 Trey Lance comes on for the fourth quarter. After completions to Tay Martin and Jeremy McNichols, his attempted screen pass to McNichols is batted into the air and intercepted by a Denver defensive lineman. The play is under review.
7:47 The interception stands. Denver ball at the 49ers 45.
7:50 Dee Winters comes up with a big play on fourth down to get the ball back for Trey Lance. The rookie linebacker chased down quarterback Ben DiNucci and dropped him for a gain of just one on fourth and three.
8:01 Lance gets the 49ers down to the Broncos 23, where a hold by Nick Zackelj on first down backs the offense up. After a pair of misses, Lance connects with Ronnie Bell on a slant for eight yards and Jake Moody hits the field goal from 43-yards out.
Lance caught a break on one throw over the middle. The Denver linebacker read the quarterback and was in position for an interception but the pass sailed high.
8:15 Lance gets into a rhythm hitting six in a row including a 22-yard touchdown to Cameron Latu up the right seam. On his last four throws Lance hit his back foot and let the ball rip.
8:30 After a quick stop, Lance gets a shot at a two minute drill. On the third play of the possession he rips a throw over the middle to Ronnie Bell and the rookie takes it for a gain of 43.
Jake Moody comes on and hits from 32-yards out to give the 49ers a 21-20 victory.
Be back soon with my recap.