It was a disappointing night for the 49ers as they fell to the Denver Broncos 11-10 on Sunday. The 49ers' offense scored more points (10) than the defense allowed to Denver’s offense (9) but three turnovers caused the 49ers to somehow come out on the losing side.
Here are the winners and losers as the 49ers fall to 1-2.
Winner: DC DeMeco Ryans and the 49ers' defense
The performance put on by Ryans and his defense will, unfortunately, be forgotten because of the loss but performances like Sunday night are why Ryans will be a head coach in 2023 and beyond. The 49ers line got to Russell Wilson for four sacks and hit him nine times. Dre Greenlaw led the defense with ten tackles.
Mooney Ward and Emmanuel Moseley were tight in coverage against Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, allowing only 160 passing yards. Talanoa Hufanga continued his Pro Bowl-caliber play at safety. The 49ers' defense was clicking on all cylinders and held Denver’s offense to nine points; an amount allowed that should have won the game.
Loser: QB Jimmy Garoppolo
We’ve seen this version of Jimmy Garoppolo before. Unfortunately, the 49ers' offense never felt like it got going, and Garoppolo’s inconsistencies were the reason why. Missing screen passes high, slant passes thrown behind receivers, and over-throwing deep shots; it felt like we saw every kind of Garoppolo throw that draws complaints (to Garoppolo’s credit, we even got the perfectly thrown dot he unleashes once every so often on a sideline completion to Kyle Juszczyk).
The game was mostly lost after an interception from Jonas Griffith that was tipped after being thrown into double coverage late in the fourth quarter, and yet that somehow wasn’t Garoppolo’s worst play of the day.
Winner: Former Lions QB Dan Orlovsky
Orlovsky no longer holds the honor of worst safety taken in NFL history. Garoppolo running the ball out of the back of the endzone while simultaneously throwing a pick-six is a feat that might go unmatched for the remainder of NFL history. To make things even worse, the 49ers lost by one point, so maybe if the ball bounces differently here (or I guess the foot stays inbounds would work better here), the 49ers could be 2-1 instead of 1-2.
Loser: Football fans
It was almost as if the NFL decided to take a 9 AM Big Ten game and have it played on Sunday night. Of the 28 drives between the two teams on Sunday night, 17 ended in punts. Seven of those 17 punts were on fourth downs with less than five yards to go, with neither team attempting to convert a fourth down. It’s almost as if Kyle Shanahan and Nathaniel Hackett played Sunday night not to lose, and Hackett accidentally picked up the win.
Winner: P Mitch Wishnowsky
The 49ers' four-year extension of Wishnowsky is looking better and better each week. After landing two punts inside the 20 and forcing a muffed punt against Seattle last week, the punter followed with three more punts inside the Denver 6-yard-line and a career-long 74-yard punt that resulted in a touchback. Unfortunately, Denver could only muster three points off of those three well-placed punts from the Bloomin’ Onion.
The first turnover of the night was the botched midfield snap between Jake Brendel and Garoppolo, which was recovered by Denver early in the third quarter. The Broncos followed with a three-and-out so that turnover didn’t hurt the 49ers too bad. The next two, however, would come on the final two drives of the game with the 49ers trailing 11-10.
First, Garoppolo threw a pass into double coverage that was intercepted in Broncos territory with 2:06 remaining in the game. The defense forced a three and out, giving the offense one last chance to win the game but Jeff Wilson was stripped from behind by PJ Locke and recovered by Kareem Jackson to end the game. Three second-half turnovers in a one-score game should be what’s remembered from a sloppy night for the 49ers' offense.