The 49ers offense travels to Broncos Country with a tough test against a Denver defense that has allowed only 26 points through two games. With key players like Justin Simmons out and Pat Surtain potentially out in the secondary, the Broncos will rely heavily on their pass rush group that features Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory.
With a familiar face back under center, here are five 49ers to watch against the Broncos Sunday night:
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
The more things change, the more they stay the same. So despite an off-season full of rumors and rumblings and a quarterback change here, we stand with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Garoppolo stepped in against Seattle last week after Trey Lance went down with a season-ending ankle injury and threw for 154 yards and a touchdown on 21 attempts while adding a win to that all-important quarterback win stat.
RB Marlon Mack and RB Jordan Mason
Quarterback isn’t the only position with the next man-up mentality on the 49ers offense. Of the six (including fullback Kyle Juszcyzk) running backs on the initial 53-man roster, the 49ers have just three ready for Sunday night in Denver.
With Tyrion Davis-Price out the next several weeks with a high ankle sprain, the 49ers signed veteran Marlon Mack from their practice squad. Jeff Wilson will get the majority of the carries but will Kyle Shanahan use Mack, who has been with the team for a couple of weeks, or Jordan Mason, who has been active the first two weeks but has yet to see an offensive snap, to be the spell back behind Wilson?
WR Danny Gray
When the 49ers drafted Gray with the 105th pick in April, the thought was he’d be used to stretch the field vertically for Trey Lance’s big arm. Now with Garoppolo as the starter, the vertical game will likely be used less, so where does that leave Gray? After a Week 1 healthy scratch, Gray was targeted twice on only seven offensive snaps. Both targets came with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, including a shot about 40 yards downfield. Gray might not see the most snaps on Sunday, but if he does see some, how will he be used in an offense that will now see the majority of its passes be in the short and intermediate ranges?
LG Aaron Banks
Banks has been solid at the left guard this season, where he was a bit of an unknown entering the second season of his career. After allowing two pressures in Week 1 against Chicago, Banks allowed only one pressure against Seattle. His three pressures allowed match the likes of All-Pro guards Joel Bitonio and Quenton Nelson, and while it’s a small sample size of just two games, it’s a good group to be tied with. With so many questions surrounding the 49ers’ offensive line, specifically, the interior, Banks’ good play early on has been an encouraging sign for the offense.