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'I'm just going to do my job': Jarrett Stidham keeping narrow focus ahead of first start with Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Jarrett Stidham always believed in his ability to play quarterback at the NFL level before Week 17 last season.

"I've always had a lot of confidence in myself," Stidham said Wednesday. "That's never wavered or anything."

And yet, before he made his first NFL start, he couldn't quite be sure about what type of success he could have at the game's highest level.

"You don't ever really know," Stidham said. "You think you know what you can do, but [you can't know] until you can go out there and actually do it."

In last season's matchup between the Raiders and 49ers, he did.

In his first career start and facing San Francisco's top-ranked defense, Stidham threw for 365 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a 108.1 quarterback rating as he completed 67.7 percent of his passes. Stidham's performance stood out this offseason as the Broncos evaluated and then prioritized signing him in free agency, and it offered a glimpse at his potential.

"Obviously, I was on the other side of one of his performances last year when he almost took us by storm there," former 49er Mike McGlinchey said Wednesday. "The 49ers had the No. 1 defense in the league last year, and he ran through us like crazy."

As Stidham prepares to make his first start of the season, the Broncos are hopeful he can provide a spark and post a similar performance against the Chargers.

"Jarrett's a great player," McGlinchey said. "He's obviously a true professional. He's been that way all year. He's one of the first people in the building, one of the last out, no matter what his role has been. And certainly can sling the pill. He's done a great job with that. … I think he's going to do great things, and I'm so excited for him and the opportunity he's getting. He's going to do great for us."

Head Coach Sean Payton said Stidham's poise, footwork, arm strength and decision-making all stand out as impressive traits, and he said he's "anxious to see" Stidham play. Payton also said Stidham understands the opportunity that he now holds.

"It's significant," Payton said. "And I think, look, he understands it. He came here to compete. These guys are competitive by nature, and they haven't gotten to this level without that confidence in themselves. He's going to want to play well. That's the trait most of these players at this level in our league have."

As Stidham approaches his first start in a year, he said his preparation will not change.

"I think it just goes back to preparing like I have been throughout my entire career," Stidham said. "Nothing this week changes now that I'm a starter vs. a backup last week. I've had my routine that I stick with that I know gets me prepared, gets me ready to play, and that's what I'm going to do."

While Stidham will have the benefit of a full week of practice with the starters, he also said he doesn't need to try to play beyond his limits to be the spark the Broncos hope he can be for the offense.

"I don't think I need to overthink it," Stidham said. "Just do what I'm coached to do. We have a great staff and a great group of guys around me. I'm just going to do my job to the best of my ability, do the certain things that I need to do on each and every play and move the ball down the field and hopefully score a lot of points and get a win."

And while the chance to start represents a big opportunity for Stidham, he said he's not overly concerned about the future.

"I'm not really focused too much down the road," Stidham said. "The only thing down the road that I'm remotely concerned about is having a little baby boy in April. Right now, I'm focused on this week against the Chargers. They've played really well the last couple weeks. So, [I'm] excited to go up against the defense. They've got some incredible players over there. Just keep getting ready and focus on this week and get ready to go."

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