SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

49ers Leave It Late For Wilson; Suffer Embarrassing Loss To Broncos 11-10

Sep 25, 2022, 9:45 PM | Updated: Sep 26, 2022, 9:17 am

DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 25: Bradley Chubb #55 of the Denver Broncos sacks Jimmy Garoppolo #10 ...

DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 25: Bradley Chubb #55 of the Denver Broncos sacks Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter of a game at Empower Field At Mile High on September 25, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

If I told you before the game that the final score between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football would be 11-10, would you believe me?

Well, that was the case this week as the 49ers suffered a tragic loss in Denver, dropping their record to 1-2 in the early NFL season.

This was a game of defense, specifically the 49ers, who dominated through three and a half quarters of play. DeMeco Ryans’ unit held the Broncos to seven three-and-outs and 10 punts Sunday, a testament to the dominance on that side of the ball.

Unfortunately, the offense for the 49ers couldn’t keep up.

After converting a touchdown on a six-play, 75-yard drive in the first quarter, Jimmy Garoppolo and company sputtered to the finish line. The biggest stat of the night goes as followed: 1 for 10 on third downs. Not a typo.

“I thought we made too many mistakes today,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game. “Thought we made too many mistakes. And not taking anything from [Denver], they did a real good job too.”

The biggest play of the game happened in the third quarter when Jimmy Garoppolo dropped back and went out of the end zone for a safety, giving the ball back to Denver at 7 to 5. Simultaneously, All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams went down on the same play, leaving the game with an ankle injury. He likely has a high ankle sprain, according to Shanahan.

Still, the 49ers had chances after that as Broncos QB Russell Wilson couldn’t muster up much against the elite defense of the 49ers. Wilson almost hit a home run play in the fourth quarter, launching the ball at WR Courtland Sutton but cornerback Charvarius Ward came up with the huge pass break-up.

However, the 49ers left the door open for far too long, with Wilson eventually creating some magic in the fourth quarter. Evading the relentless pressure of the 49ers, Wilson somehow found wideout Kendall Hinton for the 27-yard first down. That was all the juice Denver needed, putting together a few quick plays to make it first and goal inside the five-yard line.

The Broncos capitalized with a Melvin Gordon 1-yard rush for the touchdown. Head coach Nathaniel Hackett rolled his offense out for the two-point conversion but it was stopped by defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.

The story of the game is this: When it was time to capitalize and seal the victory, Garoppolo couldn’t do it, missing WR Deebo Samuel numerous times Sunday night.

The nail in the coffin was with less than four minutes to go in the fourth. After finding WR Jauan Jennings for the first down, Garoppolo forced a ball to Deebo Samuel in triple coverage, the defensive back tipped it and it was picked off by Jonas Griffith. A horrible decision by Garoppolo, giving the faithful déjá vu all over again.

Nevertheless, the Red & Gold were afforded another chance to make amends after the team’s defense forced another three-and-out by the Broncos.

Denver was forced to punt with less than two minutes to go. The final drive almost didn’t happen after return man Ray-Ray McCloud muffed the catch. He redeemed himself by recovering the football.

It just wasn’t the 49ers night to be, unfortunately.

Taking a bad sack on first down, Garoppolo found running back Jeff Wilson Jr. on a short pass in the middle of the field. Running for the first down, Wilson coughed up the football at the first down marker upon being tackled, giving the ball back to Denver.

And that was all she wrote, an 11-10 loss after dominating for most of the night.

Garoppolo finished the night 18 for 29, 211 yards passing, one TD, and one INT. A night to forget for this offensive unit as Garoppolo was out of sync with his team, playing like he hadn’t taken first-team reps since last season.

“It was my first week with these guys, we’ve got to get in a rhythm. Re-acclimation period…I’m not trying to make excuses, but I’ve just got to get in game shape and get rolling now…We had a good rhythm last year. We just have to get back to that. We’ll get there,” Garoppolo said after Sunday’s loss.

Positives:

  • Brandon Aiyuk got his first touchdown of the season on a three-yard pitch and catch at the goal line. He finished with eight targets, three catches for 39 yards and one score.
  • Rookie DE Drake Jackson got the first sack of his career, running a nice stunt on the Bronco’s offensive line to sack Wilson in the third quarter
  • Talanoa Hufanga continues to build on his impressive play: Four combined tackles and one incredible TFL for a six-yard loss. The 49ers may have a version of Troy Polamalu in their secondary.

Negatives:

  • Penalties: Seven for 40 yards. A lot better than the 12 for 99 yards showing in Chicago but still not what you want. The offensive line continues to have issues with holding, OL coordinator Chris Forester will need to clean that up going forward.
  • Injuries: Losing Trent Williams to a high ankle sprain is catastrophic but also losing LB Azeez Al-Shaair to a significant MCL injury. Not great for the 49ers as the injury bug continues to run rampant.

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