The San Francisco 49ers used a come-from-behind effort to pull out a 24-15 win over the Denver Broncos Monday to close out Week 2 of the NFL preseason.
Starting quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Joe Flacco each played nearly the full first quarter, although the Broncos only held a 3-0 lead when the reserves began to take over. Garoppolo saw his first game action since tearing his ACL last September but had a day to forget, finishing 1-of-6 for zero yards and an interception.
The second- and third-string players helped pick up the slack for the 49ers, as C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens contributed toward a 21-0 second-half run in the eventual victory at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
While plenty of players saw the field Monday, the return of the 49ers' presumptive franchise quarterback was the major story.
Unfortunately, Garoppolo looked extremely rusty with just one completion for zero yards.
Pressure on the first drive led to an interception:
He followed it up with a pair of three-and-outs in his next two drives, leading to plenty of criticism:
Despite the rough game, it's important to remember it's still the preseason and it was his first game back in about 11 months. It might take some time for him to get back into a rhythm on the field.
Many of the problems were also forced by Denver's defensive pressure led by Bradley Chubb (one sack, two QB hits, one forced fumble), which is more on the offensive line than the quarterback. San Francisco will hope for more success in the team's third preseason game.
One player who did have a nice return was Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who tore his Achilles in December. He certainly looked smooth on an end-around that went for 19 yards:
He also caught a 45-yard pass down the field that was called back because of holding.
Flacco also had a solid showing in his three series, finishing 7-of-11 for 59 passing yards. Unfortunately, this only resulted in two punts and a field goal, as he failed to extend drives.
Rookie Drew Lock wasn't much better when he played, totaling 40 yards on 7-of-12 passing before exiting with a hand injury. The team at least moved the ball better with two drives of more than 10 plays in three series.
Kevin Hogan had a nice 24-yard scramble for a touchdown but didn't show much as a passer in nearly a full half of work.
The 49ers had a much better showing from its backups, with the skill players especially turning heads.
Deebo Samuel showed why he is such an exciting player with a 45-yard gain on an end-around:
That play led to a Jeff Wilson one-yard touchdown.
Raheem Mostert and Kendrick Bourne also got into the end zone with impressive plays:
The depth chart is crowded at both running back and receiver, but these players might have earned more playing time going forward.
Meanwhile, the defense was dominant after halftime with six sacks, one interception and just six points allowed.
Though the Broncos have plenty of high-end talent, depth remains a serious question mark for the AFC West squad.
Both teams have a short week before playing again Saturday for Week 3 of the preseason. The 49ers will face the Kansas City Chiefs, while the Broncos will take on the Los Angeles Rams.