On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers will face the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High for their first prime-time game of the season. DraftKings Sportsbook currently has the Niners as 1.5 point favorites.
To help us take a look inside, we reached out to Mile High Report to provide some new take on our old friend Russell Wilson. Thanks so much to Ian St. Clair for taking the time to answer my questions!
1. The Broncos have had an incredibly busy offseason, which resulted in a different starting quarterback and head coach. After two weeks of seeing the rebuilt Denver team in action, what’s the initial vote for their big acquisition and new hire? More specifically, how do you feel about 65-yard field goals?
It has been a busy but exciting low season. After a six-year run this franchise hasn’t seen since the lull in the 1960s and early 1970s, Broncos fans needed this off-season. Now they want to see him reunite. After two weeks, let’s give it an incomplete. There is still a lot of football to play for Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett. The clock and game management are a resounding F, but then look at how unlucky Denver was in the red zone and goal to go, 0 on 6 and 0 on 5 in every crucial situation. If the Broncos go 50% into the red zone in both games, they get explosive wins, and the clock and game management issues that have been the subject of discussion in the NFL world aren’t a big deal. This goes without saying, but Hackett needs to consider kicking a field goal over 60 yards, writing it down on a piece of paper, and burning it. So he needs to go to a therapist or hypnotist and have the thought cleared from his mind.
2. From both a fantasy football perspective, but also a better prospect for offense, why does Javonte Williams not get the ball 20 times per game when he has an average of 5.5 yards within reach to start the season?
That’s the million dollar question at this point. Williams is a special player and has the ability / potential to be one of the best running backs in the NFL. I don’t know if it’s Hackett and his offensive staff thinking about it too much or if they have this thought that “We have to split the carries”, but “Pookie” is the driver of this offense. Make it the bell ringer. If he needs a break, let Melvin Gordon come and hopefully don’t fumble. But Hackett needs to lead Williams. Since he’s with Wilson, the second year running back looks and runs like Marshawn Lynch. Give him the rock. He lets the offense run through him and prepares Wilson for action. And speaking of the red zone and goal-to-go situations, piss off Williams and let her make her way to “Angry Runs”.
3. Former Broncos manager Vic Fangio, who Niners fans know well from his time with the team in the early 2010s (and who recently spent time at San Francisco training), makes the phrase “mind defensive “. He’s a guru on that side of the ball and his teams have always seemed extremely skilled in that area. How did things go with the new DC Ejiro Evero? Based on the last six quarters, he may have picked up right where Vic left off.
There was concern about what the Broncos defense would be like and how he would play without Fangio. The problems with his tenure in Denver had nothing to do with the defensive side of the ball. In fact, that was the only one Good what about his three years here. Despite the putrid quarterbacks and offense, Fangio’s defenses were consistently in the top 10, if not higher. So you understand why there was little concern for a first year defensive coordinator at Evero.
The first half in Seattle was bad, but like you said, the last six quarters were phenomenal. And this is only the beginning. The Broncos didn’t have starting center linebacker Josey Jewell in the first two weeks, and Pat Surtain II didn’t play most of Sunday’s game against the Texans. Of course, Justin Simmons will also be released in upcoming games. If Wilson and Denver can start finishing units, this team is set to be incredibly competitive and hard to beat. There is a certain excitement for Evero and the defense of him.
4. Who of the Broncos should keep an eye on Niner fans in this game? Is there any player under the radar who has already been a pleasant surprise or a big contributor? (We are aware of DJ Jones’ greatness.)
Let’s start on the offensive side of the ball. KJ Hamler is the speed and vertical threat in this attack. At the time of this writing, it is still unclear if the receiver will ring on Sunday night. Hamler did not play against the Texans. But I beat the drum that Hamler can be Tyler Lockett in this Denver bout, and I’ll keep beating that drum until it comes to life. We could see it this Sunday. In fact, I’d like to see Hackett call a deep pass to Hamler on the first play from scrimmage.
On the defensive side of the ball, now that Simmons is out, Caden Sterns is the next man in play. The second year safety had a good rookie season, and built on that during the retirement and preseason. And Sterns did it again on Sunday against Houston. He will play an important role in limiting the great play potential of this attack from Kyle Shanahan. The other player to watch for 49ers fans is cornerback rookie Damrri Mathis. When Surtain left the game on Sunday, Mathis stepped forward and played an excellent game. Obviously the San Francisco offense is a different beast, but Mathis gave Brandin Cooks nothing. If he’s up to Surtain, it looks like he’s playing on Sunday night. Either way, Mathis is a player to watch on Sunday.
5. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Niners at 1.5 point favorites with an O / U of 43.5 … What is it your prediction for Sunday night’s game?
This is going to sound like a Broncos homer, and I understand it perfectly. But at some point, bad luck in the red zone and goal-to-go situations must be reversed. With so much attention on this issue here in Denver, and on whether it is Sunday night football, Denver solves these problems. And fans of the 49ers know all too well about Wilson’s success against this franchise. The Broncos end up in the car, DJ Jones helps make SanFran one-dimensional and the Broncos get the 31-17 win.