The San Francisco 49ers are wrapping up their offseason, with training camp set to get going on Thursday, July 27. With the help of SB Nation’s other NFL sites, we have been previewing training camp for the 49ers 13 regular season opponents. You can view all of them here.
Since we still have some time before the preseason gets going, I thought it would be fun to keep going and look at the other 19 NFL teams. The 49ers will play four of them in the preseason, while the remaining 15 will not appear on their schedule outside of a potential playoff appearance. But, it is helpful to continue getting a better handle on the NFL this season.
Today, we move on to the 49ers second preseason opponent, the Denver Broncos. Our friends at Mile High Report put together a look at the various roster changes and storylines to track heading into camp.
The 49ers and Broncos will meet in Santa Clara, and that will be preceded by a joint practice. John Lynch played for the Broncos, and later handled preseason telecasts and provided some defensive back insight to John Elway. Add in Kyle Shanahan’s dad coaching the team, and it is no surprise these two teams will work together for another preseason.
Much like we’ll be tracking Alex Smith vs. Pat Mahomes for the 49ers first preseason game, Trevor Siemian vs. Paxton Lynch will be worth watching heading into Week 2. The Broncos moved up from No. 31 to No. 26 in the 2016 NFL Draft to draft Lynch, and they have to be hoping for a breakthrough at some point this season. It will be interesting to see how the two quarterbacks split snaps in this matchup.
On the other side of the ball, I’m really hoping Von Miller gets a decent amount of work early in the game. I don’t expect more than probably a quarter of playing time, but given the question marks surrounding the 49ers offensive line, the more work they can get against Miller, the better.
Notable free agent additions: Ronald Leary, Jamaal Charles, Menelik Watson, Domata Peko
Notable free agent departures: DeMarcus Ware, Russell Okung, Sylvester Williams, Kayvon Webster
1) Traded RB Kapri Bibbs and a 2017 fifth-round pick (No. 177) to San Francisco in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round pick
2) Traded a 2017 fourth-round pick (No. 126) and a 2017 seventh-round pick (No. 252) to Cleveland for two 2017 fifth-round picks (No. 145, No. 175)
3) Traded a 2017 fifth-round pick (No. 175) and a seventh-round pick (No. 238) to Green Bay for a 2017 fifth-round pick (No. 172)
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies: Garett Bolles, DeMarcus Walker, Carlos Henderson, & possibly Jake Butt & Isaiah McKenzie
Biggest offseason addition: Mike McCoy. Ronald Leary is probably tops among players added, but McCoy, his offense, and his ability to help the QBs develop are arguably the single biggest change that carries the potential to heavily impact the quality of the Broncos' season.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: The quarterback battle, Siemian vs Lynch 2.0, will dominate the discussion with ease. The fanbase is already rather sharply divided, and it has the makings of a competitive camp battle at football's most important position. Somewhat greater experience and sample size will compete against greater physical talent & the pressure to start a former 1st round pick.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: Can Shane Ray adequately fulfill DeMarcus Ware's role across from Von Miller? There's evidence from 2016 that he can, and that he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl edge rusher. But he's got to actually do it. And if he can't, then a lopsided pass rush could tip a whole line of dominoes starting with more double and triple teams vs Miller, more time for QBs to throw, and greater demands put on the secondary. If the Broncos' historic pass defense is going to regress this season, failures across the line from Miller might be the most likely culprit.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: Matt Paradis: The Broncos' best offensive lineman is coming back from two offseason hip surgeries. Can he get healthy enough and strong enough to play well by the time the season begins? Jake Butt: The 5th round rookie TE has a ton of potential, but how quickly will he return from a torn ACL?