San Francisco and Denver have faced off 13 times in the regular season, plus in Super Bowl XXIV, when the 49ers won, 55-10, in New Orleans.
Our staff writers break down the San Francisco 49ers second preseason matchup, a home game against the Denver Broncos.
Let's dive into the keys to the game in this "Four Downs" preview of the 49ers exhibition contest, presented by SunPower.1st Down:What is the best matchup in the game?@Joe_Fann: Trent Brown vs. Von Miller
If you asked me this question earlier in the week, I probably would have given you a different answer. Now it's the easy choice since the NFL's top pass-rusher called Brown "the best right tackle in the NFL". Miller reaffirming his praise of Brown is a sign that the former seventh-round pick has progressed since last year's joint practices. The 49ers first-team offense will get more work on Saturday than they did a week ago. Hopefully Miller is on the field for as long as Brown.
@KeianaMartinTV: Rashard Robinson vs. Broncos receivers
I think the second-year cornerback is looking for redemption from last Friday's exhibition game against the Kansas City Chiefs. He said as a defensive back, it's all about how you bounce back from a blow. He got off to a rough start opposite the NFL's fastest receiver in Tyreek Hill, and now looks to prove himself against Pro Bowl receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. According to Coach Shanahan, we can expect to see increased playing time out of the 49ers first-team defense on Saturday. That's plenty of opportunity for the talented corner to get going against an elite receiving corps.2nd Down: Who will record the 49ers longest play from scrimmage?
@Joe_Fann: Marquise Goodwin
I incorrectly predicted a Goodwin touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs, so why not double down? Pierre Garçon and Co. will be eager to get going on Saturday after both drives last week ended in a three-and-out. We know Hoyer loves to throw the deep ball, and so I'd love to see Kyle Shanahan dial up a play-action bomb to San Francisco's top vertical threat.
Rookie slot receiver Trent Taylor continues to prove that he deserves a spot in Shanahan's offense. He has displayed quick instincts and explosiveness up field throughout his first NFL training camp. I forsee the 5-foot-9 receiver taking a slant into the open field for a big gain as an encore to his three-catch, 33-yard performance last week.3rd Down: Who will be the 49ers player of the game?
@Joe_Fann: Joe Williams
Williams was fantastic in his preseason debut with an efficient 60 yards on just seven carries. On one drive, he posted back-to-back 17-yard gains. We've seen the rookie begin to get rolling in practice, and that momentum could result in a bigger workload on Saturday. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up leading all 49ers running backs in carries against the Broncos. For what it's worth, Denver surrendered 173 rushing yards last week against the Chicago Bears.
Thomas fared well in his preseason opener against the Chiefs. He totaled two tackles and multiple quarterback pressures – one of which led to Robinson's interception of Chiefs quarterback Tyler Bray. Now that he's had an opportunity to shake off the first-game nerves, it's the perfect opportunity for a repeat performance. He has been stout against the run and an efficient pass-rusher. I predict two sacks and a forced fumble from the third-overall pick.4th Down: What is your bold prediction?
@Joe_Fann: Pierre Garçon finds the end zone
The 49ers starting running back only had two carries against the Chiefs. He'll get more work against the Broncos, and I've already detailed that Denver's defense was susceptible against the run last week. With the starters playing into the second quarter, "El Guapo" could have at least one chance at crossing the goal line.
@KeianaMartinTV:K'Waun Williams comes down with an interception
There may be a lot of bodies in the 49ers secondary, but let's not forget fourth-year cornerback K'Waun Williams. He has found himself vying for 49ers starting nickel corner role. He has been a shutdown corner at camp and fared well against the Denver Broncos receivers during two joint practices. He nearly came down with an interception of Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian. I think Williams will get another chance on Saturday. This time he'll get the takeaway.