Three keys to the Broncos beating the 49ers in Week 3

Sep 23, 2022, 6:37 AM

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers looks to pass during the first half of a game agains...

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos were able to beat the Houston Texans in Week 2, but their performance was so bad it felt like another loss. Sitting with a 1-1 record after two weeks, the Broncos find themselves in the primetime spotlight once again as they are at home to face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football in Week 3.

The 49ers have changed their starting quarterback due to injury, and this is potentially bad news for the Broncos. The fan base is already disappointed in the start of the 2022 season. A loss on Sunday night to the 49ers would not be well received.

Here are three keys to victory in Week 3.


Let Jimmy Be

The 49ers know Jimmy Garoppolo, and he knows their offense like the back of his hand. The fact that Trey Lance is out for the year and Garoppolo is starting in his place is bad news for the Broncos. Lance has higher upside, but the second-year pro is not as well versed in this system as the veteran Garoppolo. The Broncos could have thrown things at Lance to confuse him, and those same defensive philosophies will not stump the veteran. However, there is a way the Broncos can get to Garoppolo – just let him be himself.

Opponents also know that a few times a game Garoppolo will make boneheaded decisions as a passer. Even the 49ers coaching staff knows that no matter who they craft the game plan, Garoppolo will throw it directly to an opponent two to three times a game. The Broncos need to contain Garoppolo and wait for those opportunities to arise. Garoppolo does not throw deep, so the Broncos defense doesn’t have to worry about anything going over their head. Instead, they should play tight coverage and force Garoppolo into one of his guaranteed errant throws.


Look Into the Mirror

Under head coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers have nearly perfected the wide-zone rushing offense that was made famous by Kyle’s dad, Mike, right here in the Mile High City. Every Broncos fan knows the zone-blocking system that was made famous in the Shanahan days, and that offense is what the 49ers run to almost perfection. The Broncos are running that scheme now under head coach Nathaniel Hackett, so these concepts will not be foreign to the Broncos defense on Sunday night.

It will be like looking into a mirror for this Denver defense. They’ll see an opponent in the 49ers, but they’ll also see a future version of what this team’s offense could be. To stop or slow down the zone-blocking system, a defense must play with great discipline. The Broncos are not going to be taken off guard by this rushing attack the way other opponents are. That’s an advantage for the Broncos they don’t have every week on the schedule. The 49ers are going to want to run the ball early and often. The Broncos defense must maintain gap responsibility and force this team to the passing attack. If Denver’s defense can make the 49ers one dimensional on offense, it will go a long way to helping secure victory.


No More Dumb Penalties

Under Nathaniel Hackett, the Broncos are the most penalized team in the NFL. After just two games, the Broncos have been penalized a whopping 28 times. Three of those penalties have been declined, but the 25 that were accepted have greatly hurt this team’s chances of victory in the early portion of the season. The Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans are bottom feeders in the NFL. The 49ers could be one of the best teams in the NFC, and with Garoppolo in at quarterback they want to make a deep postseason run after getting one game from the Super Bowl last year.

If the Broncos continue to have false starts, delay of games, holding, and other penalties ad nauseam then they won’t win. In fact, if the Broncos make it difficult on themselves via frequent penalties this thing could get ugly quickly. Add in a Broncos crowd that is clearly sick and tired of these undisciplined penalties, and the fans could make things ugly for the Broncos on both sides of the ball. If the crowd turns on the Broncos, the 49ers can and will feed off that negative energy. They’ll essentially kick the Broncos while they’re down. Denver can’t afford any more dumb penalties, especially when going against a superior opponent like San Francisco.



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