DENVER —** As Trevor Siemian, Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch work to separate themselves during the preseason, one commonality frustrated each of them Saturday: turnovers.
Though each quarterback had their good moments, each had at least one play they wish they had back.
For Siemian, Saturday's starter, that was a pass intended for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas on a slant. San Francisco safety Eric Reid tracked the throw, intercepted it and then beat Siemian to the end zone for the touchdown.
"You just can't turn the ball over," Siemian said. "I just made a bad decision. A guy played flat and I want that one back."
For Sanchez, it was a sequence in which he turned the ball over on two fumbles in the last 45 seconds of the first half. He was hit while scrambling on the first, and on the second, 49ers linebacker Marcus Rush knocked the ball out of Sanchez's hand while he attempted to throw.
"Going into my eighth year, I know better and I know I've got to get the ball out," Sanchez said. "I can't put pressure on the O-line like that, and I know I'm in a tough spot there and [Head] Coach [Gary Kubiak] wants to see what I do. There's no excuse for that. You can't put the team in that situation."
A look at the Broncos' preseason home opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
For Lynch, it was his final pass of the game, with only 36 seconds left and the Broncos needing a touchdown to tie. The pass for Bralon Addison down the seam sailed high, and skimmed his fingertips before landing in cornerback Kenneth Acker's hands.
Yet, as much as these plays upset each quarterback, they knew they still had moments in which they could take pride.
"Oh God, absolutely," Sanchez said. "We moved the ball great. Virgil Green and Jordan Taylor, Jordan Norwood — huge third-down conversions. Put some throws in some great spots. I know I can play this game and I know I'm better than I showed tonight. That was two plays, two really bad plays, that took away from a great performance."
On Sanchez's first drive in the second quarter, he marched the Broncos 60 yards to the San Francisco 22-yard line on nine plays for a field goal. On his second drive, before his first fumble, Sanchez conducted a 75-yard drive from Denver's 10-yard line. On the night, he was 10-of-17 for 120 passing yards.
Siemian had a similar rate of success, completing 10-of-14 attempts for 75 yards. On the opening drive, he completed five passes, each for a first down. It was a nearly impeccable start, with only one incompletion before running back C.J. Anderson capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown.
"I thought it went well," Siemian said. "We found a rhythm and guys made plays. The offensive line did a heck of a job and I think they did a pretty good job all night — all three groups. … They have some unique blitzes so I think we did a good job getting the ball out and on time. Guys did a good job separating and we found a little rhythm there, which was good."
Lynch, who was inserted early in the third quarter, settled in after his second series. He connected on two first-down passes, danced his way out of a near-sack for an 8-yard gain, converted a long third down and then finished the drive with an 8-yard touchdown to tight end John Phillips on a naked bootleg.
"I felt like that fits into my strong suit," Lynch said, "so whenever he calls plays like that, I've just got to show that I can be trusted."
In the fourth quarter, Lynch threw his second touchdown, this time a 4-yard toss to Durron Neal at the end of a 76-yard drive.
"It felt good coming into the game," Lynch said. "Coach [Kubiak] had told us we were going to split up the reps, so I knew I was going to have to sit there for a while, then watch and when I got my opportunity to make the best of it. And I think I did that."
Though the turnovers frustrated each quarterback, they can take positives from the long drives they helped string together Saturday. With the third preseason game a week away, Sanchez, Siemian and Lynch will each focus on correcting their mistakes and seizing the opportunities they get before the preseason comes to a close.
"Whatever reps we get," Siemian said, "we'll make the most of them and go from there."