That. Was. Ugly.
The 49ers scored on their second possession, and it felt like they’d be in control for the rest of the game the way the defense had begun the game. Instead, the next four possessions were punts from both teams before Denver kicked a field goal to make it 7-3.
I’m still in the belief that Kyle Shanahan shouldn’t have declined a third-down holding call to force Denver to pick up additional yardage. There would be five straight punts before the 49ers got the ball on a short field, only for Jimmy Garoppolo to fumble a snap from Jake Brendel.
Trey Lance had been taking snaps from Brendel during practice all of last year. Garoppolo had taken snaps from Alex Mack all of last year. And remember, he didn’t practice with the team during August. So this past week was the first time he and Brendel had extensive reps with each other. Ball security between the two will be something to keep an eye on early in the season between Garoppolo and his new center.
It was a rough game for Jimmy, as he missed multiple receivers for would-be first downs and potential touchdowns. However, those misses allowed Denver to hang around. And we all know what Russell Wilson is capable of.
Backed up in their own end zone, Jimmy had stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety. That made it 7-5. The defense held once again, and a missed field goal by the Broncos kept the score at 7-5.
When it came down to it, Denver scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter after marching 80 yards and Garoppolo threw into double coverage. Tonight was a slop fest offensively, but those two drives felt like the difference.
Here’s the 49ers' offense after its first-quarter drive:
After the interception, the 49ers had one final chance, but a sack and a Jeff Wilson fumble put the game away. 11-10. An inexcusable performance all-around. There were a few firsts for the Niners tonight, but not in a flattering way:
The Broncos are the only NFL team in the last 30 years to win a game despite having at least 8 more 3-and-outs than their opponent (Broncos had 9, 49ers had 1).— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) September 26, 2022
When the defense needed to bail out the offense for what felt like a dozenth time — Denver punted on nine of its 13 drives, and each of those were three-and-outs — the nightmare known as Russell Wilson re-emerged from a sub-par performance himself to whatever corny code-switching character he goes by these days.
Wilson scrambled, made throws he missed all night, extended plays, and ran out of a Nick Bosa sack that would have been 2nd & 17. Instead, Wilson throws the ball away and it’s 3rd & 10. Russ connects on a 27-yarder to Kendall Hinton, and the Broncos found their way into Niners’ territory.
Seven penalties, a few turnovers, and one third-down conversion on ten attempts are how you finish a game with one touchdown, despite averaging over six yards per play for most of the game.
Jimmy Garoppolo believes the team will things will improve once he gets into game shape. During his postgame press conference, he seemed confident the offense will get better the more Garoppolo gets into a rhythm with the rest of his teammates.
At 1-2, the 49ers can’t afford for Garoppolo to take a few games to get up to speed. The Rams are headed to Levi’s Stadium next Monday Night. Get ready for a long, long week.