DENVER (CBS) – Even if it’s the preseason, when you win 34-0, it’s still fun.
“It was awesome, a ton of fun,” Broncos backup quarterback Brock Osweiler said after Denver dismantled San Francisco on Sunday in the 49ers’ debut in their new stadium.
How much fun was it?
– All three Broncos quarterbacks managed passer ratings above 115.
– The defense and special teams forced two fumbles and picked off two passes.
– No Broncos starters were injured.
– Punter Britton Colquitt landed all three punts inside the 20-yard line.
So, after wins against Super Bowl champion Seattle and perennial powerhouse San Francisco, the Broncos are clearly ready for the regular season, right?
“No,” head coach John Fox said. “We still have a lot of work to do. You know, really the challenge every week in the preseason is to improve.”
A couple Broncos hoping to enhance their stock did so Sunday. Brandon Marshall, the temporary substitute for injured middle linebacker Danny Trevathan, showed spark. Running back C.J. Anderson rebounded from a concussion he suffered in the first game against Seattle.
Broncos Defense Pitches Shutout
When the Broncos defense prevented the 49ers from scoring on a goal-line stand in the game’s waning seconds, the excitement on the sidelines was palpable — as if securing the goose egg mattered.
“We had to fight like a dog on those fourth-and-two and goal-line situations and stopped them,” defensive end Malik Jackson said. “It was a testament to what our coaches preach. We just go in there, work hard and when it’s your opportunity to shine, you shine.”
PHOTO GALLERY: BRONCOS 34, 49ERS 0
The defense limited the 49ers offense to a pedestrian 161 passing yards, 69 rushing yards and just 12 non-penalty first downs. The Broncos snuffed San Francisco’s only red zone attempt.
Marshall played a large role, tying for the team lead with five solo tackles, and showed why he merited more playing time until Trevathan’s return from a knee fracture in approximately eight weeks.
Despite admitting to some pregame jitters, he said Sunday’s game seemed to slow down for him.
“It was slow actually. It’s actually faster in practice,” the second-year pro said. “Going up against our offense is a challenge in itself every day in practice. Going against other offenses … I won’t say it’s cake, but it’s a little slower.”
Anderson Recovers, Broncos Continue Running Back Shuffle
The Broncos’ search for a full-time running back continued Sunday in the absence of Montee Ball, whose appendectomy sidelined him in the preseason.
No running back excelled Sunday — only two backs had carries longer than 10 yards — but Anderson received the majority of reps and gained 29 yards on nine rushes. He wore a snugger helmet Sunday to help combat any concussion-related issues.
“It feels a lot better. It was new so it took a little time to break it in, especially when you are playing in a game. I took a big shot and they pulled me out the next play and asked if I was OK. I was fine and went back in there and kept playing. It felt great,” Anderson said.
While six backs carried the ball Sunday, Anderson, Ball and Ronnie Hillman are likely to see the most playing time. Ball said Sunday he hopes he’ll be cleared to practice this week and is expected to play in the season opener on Sept. 7 against Indianapolis.
Osweiler’s Play Continues To Improve
Osweiler isn’t competing for playing time, but he’s said throughout training camp and in the first two weeks of preseason that any on-field experience he’s gained is invaluable. It shows, too: Most notable was his two-minute, 63-yard touchdown drive to end the first half.
“We work on two-minute drill all the time in practice,” Osweiler said. “Not too often does a second-string or a third-string quarterback get the opportunity to run a two-minute drill in a game, so for that to come up was huge. It’s another big step in my growth process.”
On the drive, Osweiler threw three completions for 32 yards, including a 20-yard strike to tight end Jacob Tamme to lead the Broncos into the red zone. Anderson scored on a 1-yard plunge with two seconds left.
“I think the whole offense handled it very well,” Osweiler said. “The O-line played great and the receivers made plays.”
He finished the day 10 of 13 for 105 yards, with a touchdown and a 125.5 passer rating, topping Peyton Manning’s 120.8. Sunday was a good day for all Broncos QBs: Third-stringer Zac Dysert completed eight of 11 passes for 63 yards, a touchdown and a 116.9 rating.
Fox said he’ll need to review the game tape but thought Osweiler played well.
“I think he managed the game well, made some good throws, (and) made some good decisions. I like where Brock is right now,” he said.