Brock Osweiler – 10-13, 105yds, 1TD.
All of the Denver Broncos QB’s played well, but Brock Osweiler in particular needs to prove to the Broncos that he can be a starting caliber QB in the NFL. This is a big preseason for Osweiler since he has had mixed results in preseasons past. He is under contract for next season, but then is a free agent.
The Broncos need to be confident he can be a starting NFL QB, and his play against the 49ers on Sunday gave the Broncos every indication that he is progressing nicely towards being a player capable of just that.
He made quality passes all over the field and showed great poise and awareness in the pocket. Perhaps his best throw of the day came on a 33 yard TD pass to Cody Latimer down the right side of the end zone. Osweiler put the perfect amount of loft, touch and accuracy on the throw to allow Latimer to run underneath it and make a nice catch for the TD.
The Denver Broncos have to be very pleased with what they have seen out of Osweiler thus far in the preseason. He looks substantially more comfortable, poised and confident in the pocket and has a much greater understanding of what it takes to be a successful QB in the NFL.
Ben Garland – OG
Garland, and the backup offensive linemen in general, had a rough go of it in their first preseason action against the Seahawks. However, Garland in particular rebounded nicely against the 49ers. He blew one early block that lead to a QB pressure, but was very good from that point forward. I watched every snap he played and he was active, aggressive and effective on nearly every snap. Garland is trying to make the team after several attempts as both a defensive lineman and offensive lineman. He needs a few more quality games to secure a roster spot as a backup Guard on the 53-man roster. He took a step in the right direction Sunday against the 49ers and gave himself a real shot at making the roster.
Brandon Marshal – 5 tackles.
The Broncos were eager to see Marshall in his first live action since replacing injured starter Danny Trevathan, and he did not disappoint. Marshall played confidently and played well. Wanting to step up and show he can be the guy trusted to fill in for Trevathan, it would have been understandable if Marshall were over-hyped and played a little too fast; however, he did nothing of the sort. He flowed to the ball nicely, didn’t over pursue his gaps and responsibilities and made several very nice run-stops. While Trevathan is a dynamic player who will be hard to replace completely, the Broncos seem to have a very good option in Marshall.
Juwan Thompson – 6 carries, 10yds.
Looking to build on a stellar effort in his first preseason game, Thompson failed to carry the momentum into the 2nd game gaining only 10 yards on 6 carries. Thompson was poised to perhaps take over the 3rd RB duties from CJ Anderson with another great outing, but Anderson played fairly well and Thompson wasn’t able to seize his follow-up opportunity. There is still time for Thompson to prove to the coaches that the first preseason game wasn’t a fluke, but he certainly lost a little momentum. He will look to rebound in the final two games.
Mitch Unrein – 1 tackle, 1FF
It’s hard to pick too many players who played poorly after a 34-0 shutout, and Unrein played pretty solidly. However, he is firmly on the bubble, battling for a roster spot, and really needs to turn in a great performance to make the roster at this point. He is a versatile player with a high motor, but the Broncos are just too deep and have too many more explosive players. Unrein did force a fumble but 49ers QB Josh Johnson ran right into his arms and Unrein was able to muscle the ball out. He got extensive playing time with the 2nd and 3rd teams, but was largely ineffective.
Emmanuel Sanders – DNP
While Sanders certainly isn’t fighting for a roster spot, he is missing valuable live game action with the starting offense, while at the same time WR Cody Latimer is oozing talent and begging for playing time. Sanders will get his fair share of looks this season, but may have a slow start, and could lose snaps to Latimer, after not receiving a target in the first preseason game and not playing the second. The third preseason game will be important for him as the final tune-up for the starters.