The August 17 matchup between the 49ers and Broncos will carry far more weight in regard to the game's significance as opposed to what actually may transpire on the field.
There is the debut of Levi's Stadium for starters. There will be those who cite "what could have been" had the 49ers bested the Seahawks last year.
But those storylines are moot when it comes to looking at what should garner our attention during Week 2 of the preseason. Here are some things worthy of our eyes.
49ers Secondary vs. Peyton Manning & Co.
Okay, so we probably won't see a lot of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning on Sunday—perhaps a drive or two before he gives way to backups Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert. But even Manning recognizes the challenge as stated via Taylor Price of 49ers.com: "It’s not like a huge preparation when you’re playing against these guys, but it’s a good test when you play the 49ers. It’s a physical game. It’s a team that we’ll play again in the regular season, a 3-4 defense, and so [there are] lots of things we can get out of this."
Whoever it may be under center, the 49ers' secondary will be in for a test.
We know how much changed in the defensive backfield during the offseason. We also know that cornerback Tramaine Brock will be out. Additionally, Chris Culliver and Chris Cook have minor knee issues per Cam Inman of The San Jose Mercury News.
This opens the door for some fringe players like Perrish Cox, Darryl Morris and Kenneth Acker to get some playing time. Keen observations will emanate from rookie first-round pick Jimmie Ward as well.
49ers Offensive Line vs. Broncos Defense
Denver's defense improved over the offseason, which lends itself to being a worthy challenge against San Francisco's front five.
The 49ers' O-line struggled against Baltimore and won't want to repeat the same mistakes it made just over a week ago.
This means players like Jonathan Martin and Daniel Kilgore will have to perform better. Further fueling the question is the health of players like Martin, Anthony Davis and Adam Snyder—all of whom were absent from practice at portions this week per Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee.
The right side of the line was a liability against Baltimore, so it is obviously a portion the 49ers want to shore up before squaring off against the Broncos.
Blaine Gabbert vs. Himself
There isn't much need to further bash on quarterback Blaine Gabbert any longer, but Gabbert simply needs to be better against Denver on Sunday.
As stated by Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area earlier, Gabbert is still in a strong position to retain the No. 2 quarterback job. While his first game in a 49ers uniform was anything but inspiring, Gabbert has shown some good moments in camp.
Like San Francisco's first game against Baltimore, we should not expect anything more than a couple of drives out of Colin Kaepernick. This means a lot of Gabbert and, potentially, Josh Johnson.
If Gabbert can show decent improvement over his most recent lackluster performance, it will be all for the better. But shaky performances can get into a quarterback's head, so it will be interesting to watch just how he delivers in his second test.
49ers' X-Factor of the Week: Carlos Hyde
Without spending half a slide talking about the accolades and potential impact of rookie running back Carlos Hyde, we should expect another solid outing by this promising young back against Denver.
We all know how much the 49ers love to run the football. With No. 1 back Frank Gore resting, a heavy workload should be placed on Hyde against Denver's starting defense early on.
Keep in mind that the Broncos allowed 1,626 rushing yards last season—good for seventh in the NFL—and they have improved their 14th-ranked defense overall during the offseason.
But we have already seen that Hyde can be a workhorse, emanating from his strong performance against the Ravens on August 7.
Granted, the 49ers are pretty thin at the running back position, so we shouldn't expect Hyde to "take over the game" for any long duration.
But it would be worth predicting that his time on the field will provide some bona fide impacts.
He is a special back. There isn't much doubt to that.