Broncos battle 49ers
August 8, 2013
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It's Week 1 of the NFL preseason and in this game we've got two teams with some very high hopes this year. Both Denver and San Francisco are listed as the favorites to win their respective conferences and get to the Super Bowl but we've still got a lot of football to play out on the field to see how it pans out.
As far as tonight's game goes, we shouldn't see many of the guys we'd see playing should these two meet in the Super Bowl, but you rarely ever do see the starters get significant time in Week 1 of the preseason. But if the teams want to go deep in the playoffs this season, depth will be the key to success and it's precisely these games where coaching staffs discover how deep they are at every position.
One position that both teams have a lot of depth is at RB. San Francisco is in a bit better shape given that they know who their starter will be (Frank Gore) but LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter should battle throughout the preseason for that #2 role. Hunter flourished in that position last year but James was a standout at Oregon a few years ago and is ready for a more active role in this offense. I expect both guys to get significant carries tonight as the 49ers will run a lot of generic running plays to keep the clock moving.
Denver's situation at RB is a bit more convoluted. Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball and Knownshon Moreno all believe they have a claim at the #1 job and they'll be running like it all preseason. Knownshon was the guy at the end of the year in 2012 after injuries derailed Hillman and Willis McGahee, but early word out of Broncos camp has Moreno down on depth chart. It's been the rookie Ball who's turned some heads with his size and speed and coaches will want to see how the Wisconsin product performs in his first pro game.
So with a heavy dose of running plays being called on both sides we should see the clock keep moving in the game. Neither team will want to go too deep into the playbook in Week 1 which helps defenses out quite a bit. Defenses will be better at guessing routes and being in the right position to deflect passes, tackle runners and generally get off the field quicker. Add in some sloppy/rusty play given that it's the 1st game for both teams this year and points will be few and far between.
These two teams might be two of the highest scoring offenses once the regular season starts, but for tonight's game expect a lower-scoring affair.