DENVER — The Broncos are still three weeks away from their first regular-season action, but their first-team defense appeared to be in midseason form during Monday night's game against the 49ers.
The 49ers started the game with the ball and after picking up a quick first down on the ground, the Broncos' defense clamped down. On a third-and-6 from the San Francisco 41-yard line, Bradley Chubb put pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo — and Isaac Yiadom intercepted the pass.
Denver's defense forced three-and-outs on the 49ers' ensuing two possessions. De'Vante Bausby nearly intercepted another Garoppolo pass on San Francisco's second drive, while Shelby Harris recorded a tackle for loss to help stall the Niners' third possession.
Garoppolo, 1-for-6 for 0 yards and a 0.0 quarterback rating, exited after three drives.
Chubb made his presence felt again on the first drive of the second quarter when he strip-sacked reserve quarterback C.J. Beathard. The 49ers recovered the fumble. The starting defense exited the game following the play.
The Broncos' starting offense capitalized just once off the defense's performance. Following Yiadom's interception, Denver picked up two first downs to move to the San Francisco 11-yard line. The Broncos' drive stalled from there, and kicker Brandon McManus knocked in a 31-yard field goal.
Joe Flacco, who finished 7-of-11 for 59 yards, nearly keyed the Broncos to another big play. On third-and-14 from the Denver 48, Flacco found Emmanuel Sanders for a 45-yard gain down the left sideline. A holding penalty, though, negated the play. Flacco played three drives and exited after the first quarter.
Sanders finished with one catch for 5 yards and one rush for 19 yards in his first game action since suffering an Achilles injury in December.
"A lot of things felt good," Flacco told ESPN during the game. "It felt good to get out there. I felt like I had a couple of different situations, made some third downs, had to step up and scramble a little bit, and got to throw one deep. I wish we got little bit more out of our running game. I wish we didn't commit some of those penalties. I think without those things we can feel pretty positive about how we did tonight. Myself, I felt like there were a lot of good things. I felt like I got some good work with [WR] Emmanuel [Sanders], I think that was a big key going into this week. I'm excited about how it went overall. We just have to clean up a couple of those things that we messed up."
Not all of Denver's starters played on Monday night. Yiadom replaced Bryce Callahan at cornerback in the starting lineup, and Trey Marshall subbed in for Kareem Jackson. Alexander Johnson started in place of Todd Davis.
On offense, Austin Schlottman started at right guard for Ron Leary.