Broncos vs. 49ers: Five questions in enemy territory


It’s Saturday, which means it’s nearly time for Broncos vs. 49ers. We took some time to chat with our pal Douglas over at Niner Noise to get his thoughts on tonight’s game, as well as the bigger picture for the 49ers.

To say it’s been an interesting offseason for the 49ers would be an understatement, and this is a completely different team than the fans have grown used to in the Jim Harbaugh era. It’s a new dawn, a new day for San Francisco fans. Here’s what the expert had to say…

PO: What do you and other Niners fans make of all the crazy change this offseason?

NN: It is easy to look at the 49ers losses this offseason and simply say “Wow, they’ll suck.” When you dig deeper into them, however, it isn’t anywhere close to as bad as most people have made it out to be. Frank Gore will always be one of my favorite players, but he only has one or two decent years left, if that. He isn’t the same player he was, and Carlos Hyde appears to be a beast. Patrick Willis should make the Hall of Fame, but he was often injured, and Justin Smith has consistently played less and less at a lower level. The cornerbacks the ‘Niners lost were overpaid by the teams picking them up. Jim Harbaugh and the players didn’t seem to be jelling. Losing Aldon Smith, Chris Borland, and Anthony Davis really hurt, though. I know this isn’t everyone, and the offseason was painful, but the point is that the 49ers were relatively well set-up for all of this.

PO:  In your opinion, what is the biggest loss and how are the 49ers going to replace it?

NN: This is a tough one. The biggest loss, since there were so many, has to do mainly with who was behind the person leaving. This narrows it down to three positions: ILB, CB, and OT. I’m partial to saying that Chris Borland was the biggest loss. Though Michael Wilhoite is a serviceable and solid starter, Borland was a beast. He and NaVorro Bowman could’ve done great things together. The other factor here is just how heartbreaking his announcement was. When Willis retired, it was “At least we have Borland.” When Borland retired, the shock was almost unbelievable.

Aug 15, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans safety Rahim Moore (26) tackles against San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne (38) in a preseason NFL football game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

PO: Which rookie are you most excited about in 2015?

NN: I really, really, really want to say Jarryd Hayne, and I do think he will be fun to watch, but as far as playing this year I have to say DeAndrew White. White went undrafted out of Alabama and has been impressive throughout training camp and preseason as he battles for the third receiver spot.

PO: Which 49ers player is ready for a breakout?

NN: Other than White, keep an eye on Blake Bell, a rookie tight end out of Oklahoma, and Eli Harold, a rookie outside linebacker who will progressively see more action in the coming weeks with Aldon Smith gone.

PO: What are you looking for out of this 3rd preseason game?

NN: I’m looking for the 49ers’ secondary to step up against Peyton Manning, for as long as he plays. The biggest thing, though, is that Colin Kaepernick needs to get some solid work in and connect with his receivers — especially Torrey Smith. If the Kap-Smith express can get one long touchdown pass Saturday, I will consider the game a success no matter what else happens.

Ultimately, I expect the Broncos to pull this game out 24-20, though a lot will depend on how long Manning and others play. It should be an exciting game.

Next: Broncos make roster move before preseason game