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Tommy Call

Broncos vs. 49ers: Observations and notes from second preseason game

The San Francisco 49ers are on the board in the preseason. Behind Trey Lance, Ronnie Bell and Jake Moody, the 49ers secured a comeback win in the preseason over Sean Payton and Denver Broncos, 21-20.

Saturday marked the 2023 preseason debut of Brock Purdy along with a battle between quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Lance.

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With roster spots being locked up and position battles heating up in training camp, Saturday’s contest against the Broncos will serve as a measuring stick for players climbing the depth chart or looking to secure a roster spot before the opening kickoff in September.

Here’s a look at all the live notes and observations from each quarter of the 49ers’ 21-20 comeback victory over the Broncos on Saturday night in Santa Clara.

This post originally appeared on Niners Wire! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

First Quarter

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

– Brock Purdy instantly connects with Deebo Samuel for his first completion on the first play from scrimmage.

– On the first drive, Deebo Samuel looks in midseason form. Kyle Shanahan dialed up a few early players to get the receiver going.

– Throughout his first drive since suffering an injury in the NFC Championship against the Philadelphia Eagles, Purdy showed no signs of rust. Purdy showed complete control of Shanahan’s offense, taking what the defense gives him and not over complicating things.

– 49ers’ offensive line was problematic again. Along with allowing a sack on Purdy, the sophomore passer was under pressure again in the redzone. However, after scrambling away, Purdy took a hit trying to extend the play and got up like it was nothing — a positive sign coming off a serious injury.

– Instead of going for it, Shanahan opts to send out Jake Moody a chip shot field goal – showing signs of confidence in the rookie kicker. Moody buried the kick after missing two field goals against the Las Vegas Raiders.

– Javon Hargrave quickly providing pressure up the gut on defense in his first snaps as a member of the 49ers. The duo of Arik Armstead and Hargrave looks polished.

– After a strong performance in the preseason opener, Ambry Thomas got the start at the outside corner position. Deommodore Lenoir shifting inside to slot corner. Isaiah Oliver is on the bench early.

– Russell Wilson still finding ways to punish the 49ers. The Broncos quarterback scrambled for a 17-yard pickup.

– Purdy’s day is done. Sam Darnold will get the first crack at quarterback reps over Trey Lance. Darnold’s first drive was quick as the 49ers get off the field in a three-and-out.

Second Quarter

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– After entering the game, Isaiah Oliver misses a tack on Broncos TE Greg Dulcich that turns into big gain. Oliver’s stock continues to fall as players like Thomas and D’Shawn Jamison continue to shine in camp and in the preseason.

– Feels like Jordan Mason and Ty Davis-Price are going to get an equal chance in this game to create distance between each other on the depth chart. Mason getting two consecutive carriers to start a drive.

– Similar to Trey Lance against the Raiders, the 49ers offensive line is giving him little time. Along with giving up a sack, Darnold has been under pressure in his first appearance against the Broncos.

– With Darnold under center, the 49ers offense has been quiet. Darnold hit Jauan Jennings for a chunk play but it was negated for a holding call on veteran Jon Feliciano.

– Another sack leads to another punt during Darnold’s time on the field.

Third Quarter

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

– After playing most of the first half, Sam Darnold is back for the third quarter. With a few drives ending quickly with Darnold under center, Shanahan is likely giving him one last chance to march down the field.

– Jordan Mason starting the second half behind Darnold in the backfield.

– After letting a pass from Brandon Allen slip through his hands against the Raiders, Ronnie Bell strikes again with another tipped ball that turns into an interception for Darnold and the 49ers.

– Bell has continued to flash, but his mistakes have been large and are resulting in turnovers which could result in Shanahan turning to a veteran pass catcher like Willie Snead or Chris Conley.

– D’Shawn Jamison continues to show up all over the field and step up as a tackler. It feels like he’s getting closer and closer to potentially locking up a roster spot.

– Shanahan sticking with Darnold after the interception. Trey Lance time will have to wait.

– Following a quiet performance, Darnold looks in control as the 49ers drive down the field for a touchdown. Despite the interception, Darnold went right back to Bell and it paid off for a 21-yard gain. Darnold spread the ball around, hitting Bell, Cam Latu, Brayden Willis, Jack Colletto and Dazz Newsome for completions.

– Darnold capped off his night with a quick 11-yard touchdown pass to Colletto to give the 49ers the lead.

– Jake Moody misses the PAT. The panic meter jumper up a few notches.

– Trey Lance’s time is here, but it’s late in the third quarter. He will likely get most of the fourth quarter to get some reps and make an impression on Shanahan and company.


Fourth Quarter

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

– After chipping down the field on his first series under center, Lance’s performance against the Broncos got off to a rough start with an interception. Lance attempted to float a pass over the line of scrimmage, but it was tipped an intercepted at the line.

After the interception, the 49ers got the ball back quickly by shutting down Ben DiNucci. Rookie Dee Winters continues to pop up when he’s on the field. The TCU product has real speed that he uses to close for tackles. His stock should continue to rise after his performance against the Broncos.

– Following Lance’s turnover, he responded positively with a drive down the field for a field goal attempt (yes, Moody drilled the kick). A positive response from both Lance and Moody. Lance spread the ball out and used his legs to escape trouble on his second drive of the evening.

– D’Shawn Jamison needs a touchdown-saving tackle to stop Tony Jones from breaking off a long run for a score. However, it doesn’t matter as Dinucci drops in a touchdown pass to McLaughlin. The 49ers will need a comeback effort from Lance to secure their first win of the preseason.

– With the Niners trailing, Lance put together his best drive of the preseason. For the first time in what feels like a long time, Lance was in control and confident.

– Lance finished a solid drive with a strike down the seam for a touchdown to Cameron Latu. Along with a needed nice throw from Lance, Latu has stacked up a few catches against the Broncos – something he needed desperately.

– Trailing by two points, the 49ers’ defense get the ball back to Lance by forcing a three-and-out. Lance will have the chance to march the 49ers down the field for a game-winning drive.

– The Lance to Ronnie Bell connection is real. Following a pair of pitches and catches from Lance to Bell, the 49ers are in field goal position to win the game. Despite his earlier drop turning into an interception for Darnold, Bell has responded with a strong performance.

– Lance found Bell for a 43-yard gain after a 19-yard pick-up from the duo. Bell is solidifying his spot on the roster with Ray-Ray McCloud’s injury.

– Despite his missed PAT, Shanahan is leaning on Moody with the game on the line and the rookie delivers. Moody buried a 32-yeard field goal as time expires, giving the 49ers their first win of the preseason.

– More importantly than the win, this is a performance Lance can build off of and have a little confidence going forward into this week of practice.


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