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San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos Free Pick- 8/8/2013

Denver Broncos (0-0) at San Francisco 49ers (0-0)

NFL Football: Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 9:00 pm (Candlestick Park)

The Line: San Francisco 49ers -3 -- Over/Under: 35.5 See the Latest Odds


The San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos face off on Thursday in a preseason battle of Super Bowl hopefuls.

The San Francisco 49ers came up just a few yards short of winning the Super Bowl last season and they knew standing pat wasn’t an option if they wanted a different result this year. Colin Kaepernick is now entrenched as the starter, but the number two job is wide open between Colt McCoy, Scott Tolzien, and B.J. Daniels. Frank Gore is still one of the top running backs in the game, but with knee issues he will be limited here if he plays at all as LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter, and Jewel Hampton are all going to get looks to see how and if they can contribute this season. For the second year in a row, the 49ers upgraded at wide receiver, this time grabbing Anquan Boldin to play along with Michael Crabtree, who adds to their stable including A.J. Jenkins, Mario Manningham, and Kyle Williams. Vernon Davis is one of the better pass catching tight ends in the NFL and Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek will get chances to prove they are worthy of making this deep roster.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos Free Pick- 8/8/2013

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Defensively, the 49ers go with a three man front and Justin Smith, Ian Williams, and Ray McDonald should start, but Glenn Dorsey enters the fold with a new lease on his career, where he is joined by Cornellius Carradine, Lamar Divens, Lawrence Okoye and others. Patrick Willis is the leader of the defense at inside linebacker and with NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, and Ahmad Brooks, they are one of the most feared units in the NFL, but Corey Lemonier, Dan Skuta, Parays Haralson and others will see most of the action in this one for San Francisco. Carlos Rodgers and Tarell Brown are the corners and Donte Whitner and first round pick Eric Reid are the safeties, but Nnamdi Asomugha will look to regain the glory he found across the Bay in Oakland and Craig Dahl, Trenton Robinson, C.J. Spillman and others will look to take advantage of increased playing time, especially with Chris Culliver out.

The Denver Broncos are the favorite from the AFC to make the Super Bowl, as they look to bounce back from one of the more disappointing playoff losses last season. QB Peyton Manning knows the Hall of Fame is in his future but he would trade it all for another ring and this could be his last chance, but as for this game Brock Osweiler will get a chance to live up to last year’s hype and Zac Dysert and Ryan Katz will look to earn a roster spot. Montee Ball was drafted and given the starting running back job and Ronnie Hillman will fill in and be the situational guy, while Knowshon Moreno has been a disappointment. Demaryius Thomas flourished with Manning last season and he gets Wes Welker on his other side, while Eric Decker and Andre Caldwell will try and hold their spots with the second unit. Joel Dreessen is the starting tight end, backed up by Manning favorite Jacob Tamme.

Defensively, it was the secondary that let the Broncos down in the clutch last season, but there are changes elsewhere. On the defensive line it is Derek Wolfe, Robert Ayers, Kevin Vickerson, and Sylvester Williams, but look for it to be mostly deeper on the depth chart and on the field for the bulk of this one, with names like Malik Jackson, Quanterus Smith, Terrance Knighton and several more. Wesley Woodyard and Von Miller are keys to the linebacking group, along with Nate Irving but with Miller suspended the first four games, I expect to see Danny Trevathan step up, while Shaun Phillips backs up the middle. The secondary still looks somewhat vulnerable to me as Champ Bailey is back once again, while Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie plays on the other side with Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter rounding out the starters, but Chris Harris, Tony Carter, and Quentin Jammer will be among the large group looking for a spot on the roster.

Both of these teams have some stars, but the 49ers just seem to be the far better and deeper team, whether it be the first unit or the last. I am not a believer in Osweiler and see him in for a rough night no matter which unit he faces and I like the 49ers depth as well as the stiff competition at QB, which usually brings out the best play. Jim Harbaugh isn’t known for not caring or laying down and I don’t expect him to do that here with the 49ers.

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San Francisco 49ers -3

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