But aside from those injuries, the 34-0 win over the San Francisco 49ers went exactly as they would have hoped. The offense used an array of passes to move the football and control the tempo; the defense generated pressure on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
1. How will the linebackers fare without
Quite well, led by Trevathan's primary replacement,
Marshall said he received help from
The Broncos supplemented their base defense with a dime package, but in effect it was a nickel, as they used
"I expected it. That's what I was brought here to do," said Ward. "I'm kind of tailored to do that. Whatever Jack wants to do to mix things up. I think we do a great job. We have a great group of safeties that can intermingle and do things a little differently."
The primary question now revolves around Barrow's health. He left the field via a cart in the third quarter. A prolonged absence would be a blow to the Broncos' depth -- and their hopes for Barrow, who has improved throughout training camp.
Given the quality of San Francisco's defense, it was a significant test, and the offense passed. During the two first-team series, the Broncos converted four of five third downs, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to
"It was an interesting coverage," Manning said. "But like I said he’s a threat to get down the middle and it’s nice when you have a guy with that speed to get down the field."
The Broncos shuffled their personnel and formations and kept the 49ers confused. A strong example of this came on a successful third-and-3 conversion. The Broncos stacked their targets to each side:
The offense was precise. It looked to be in midseason form. And with 17 points on four possessions against two quick, athletic defenses, there can be no viable complaints about the first unit's effectiveness.
"I think the biggest thing is getting better every week. And if you look back to my rookie year, and then last year, and then now, I think that's happened," he said. "I think every single week, I've gotten better."
"Did I like that product that I put out on the field as a rookie? No. Did I like it last year? No. And I think we're getting closer and closer to that point, but we still have a long ways to go."
3. How will the defense react to the 49ers' variety of quarterbacks?
Quite well. Although sacks were at a premium, the Broncos generated effective pressure, with Ward and
"I think our ends did a great job of containing them," said Marshall. "We put a little bit of pressure on them, and we covered on the back end."
Added defensive tackle