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Broncos 42, 49ers 17: Three Keys, Unlocked


DENVER -- **At long last, the Broncos got the "complete game" they pursued in a 42-17 rout of the San Francisco 49ers.

"We've been waiting for this type of outing," said cornerback Chris Harris Jr. "Our main goal was to come out here and have that killer instinct, and that's what we wanted, and that's what we did today.

"We killed all their hopes early, and that's what we want to do every week."

The offense sprinted to an quick lead and never relented, finishing with its second game of at least 40 points this season. The defense used the early advantage to attack the opposing quarterback, and left San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick under siege for most of the game. By the time the fourth-year quarterback capitulated with a feet-first slide on a fourth-and-goal scramble, the damage was complete.

By that time, the game had long since hit garbage time. Liberal rotation of starters ensured plenty of snaps for backups like Lerentee McCray and Quanterus Smith, and by the start of the fourth quarter, reserve quarterback Brock Osweiler was under center, and the Broncos were on cruise control, able to give their top players a bit of a breather which could prove valuable as the hours tick toward a Thursday night showdown with the arch-rival San Diego Chargers.



The Broncos used their outside pass rushers to bracket the elusive quarterback, while their inside rushers maintained position and limited the straight-ahead lanes. Then Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio supplemented this with timely blitzes from the edge and up the middle. The result was a six-sack night that was the Broncos' most productive single-game pass-rush performance since Week 16 of the 2012 season against Cleveland.

"We had to work together as a unit: pass coverage and rushers, and we're able to cover them long enough to be able to get Von (Miller) back there," said Harris.

"You've got to work together in that. And if you don't work together on that, they don't get the rush, and we don't have the coverage, then it doesn't work."


The Broncos had a bit of trouble in pass protection in the first quarter, with two penalties and a sack of Peyton Manning by San Francisco's Aaron Lynch, who bounced off right tackle Paul Cornick, who made his first professional start. Cornick improved as the game progressed. Denver also got solid play from center Manny Ramirez, particularly in springing Ronnie Hillman, Juwan Thompson and C.J. Anderson, who combined for 113 yards on 22 carries.

Manning was hit three times, and one of the two sacks the Broncos allowed came when he stumbled on second-and-goal, one play before his league-record 509th touchdown pass. Unlike last week, he was not flushed from the pocket; instead of rolling outside, he remained at home and diced up the 49ers from there, completing all but four of his 26 passes.


The 49ers wanted to take their time before the snap, run when the football was in play, and move downfield with possessions that ground up at least five minutes apiece. But they had no choice but to abandon the ground game after early failures and the Broncos' explosive offense combined to dig a 21-3 second-quarter hole.

Forty Niners running backs Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde combined for 35 yards on 12 carries -- hardly the kind of game-controlling performance of which they are capable. Just three of the 49ers' 22 first downs came on the ground.

San Francisco had two drives that chewed up at least six and a half minutes, but both came to disappointing ends: a second-quarter march that the Broncos halted at their 4-yard-line, and the fourth-quarter drive after the game had long been decided.

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