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Broncos Report Card: “A” performance by the defense, but offense remains stuck in neutral

Denver Post 9/26/2022 Kyle Newman, The Denver Post
Randy Gregory (5) of the Denver Broncos celebrates sacking Jimmy Garoppolo (10) of the San Francisco 49ers with Bradley Chubb (55) during the third quarter at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. © AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/TNS Randy Gregory (5) of the Denver Broncos celebrates sacking Jimmy Garoppolo (10) of the San Francisco 49ers with Bradley Chubb (55) during the third quarter at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.

The Broncos’ report card from their 11-10 win over the 49ers on Sunday night at Empower Field:

Offense — D+

Better late than never? After no-showing through the first three quarters, Russell Wilson finally looked like an elite quarterback on the 12-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in the team’s lone touchdown of the evening. But they also punted 10 times, and Javonte Williams was kept in check with 58 yards rushing. Besides Courtland Sutton (eight catches for 97 yards), no one on this offense has the juice right now.

Defense — A

Besides the 49ers’ TD drive in the first quarter, the defense dominated, and ultimately willed the Broncos to the ugly win. The Broncos had one safety, four sacks and three takeaways, two of which came in the waning minutes to seal the game. Pat Surtain II might be the best corner in the NFL. Randy Gregory is a pass-rushing nightmare alongside Bradley Chubb. And a healthy Josey Jewell (nine tackles) looked impressive.

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Special Teams — B+

Brandon McManus missed a 53-yard field goal in the third quarter, but he also made a 55-yard field goal in the second quarter. Corliss Waitman turned in a solid game, with a 47.6 average on his 10 punts. Six of those punts were inside the 20 and two were inside the 10. Meanwhile, the kick coverage was decent and Montrell Washington had one punt return for nine yards and one kick return for 14 yards.

Coaching — B-

With the Broncos facing fourth-and-23 on the San Francisco 41-yard-line in the second quarter, Nathaniel Hackett elected to punt instead of attempting what would’ve been about a 57-yard field goal. The possession before, McManus hit a 55-yarder; why not try the field goal there? Hackett was also 0-for-2 in challenges, losing one in the second quarter and one in the fourth. Hackett’s play-calling could never get the Broncos’ offense in sync, but defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero’s gameplan to stuff the run and bottle up George Kittle worked well.

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