Despite a slew of injuries, the Denver Broncos must adopt a next-man-up attitude and win a very winnable game in San Francisco.
First, let’s take a look at the bad news for the Denver Broncos: Emmanuel Sanders is out for the season with an achilles tear. He joins Matt Paradis, Shaquil Barrett, Chris Harris Jr. and Tramaine Brock on the list of starters that have been injured significantly enough to be out recently.
The Broncos also have a daunting path to the playoffs, for those that are interested in postsesason. Most important to long-time fans is a winning record. Denver hasn’t had consecutive losing seasons since 1972, it’s a streak worth protecting. When Denver was 3-6 that streak was in real jeopardy but at 6-6 and with a favorable remaining schedule, there’s optimism.
As far as making the playoffs, it still seems an unlikely undertaking but there’s also good news from the Broncos world:
Bradley Chubb and Von Miller are fit and fearsome. Bradley Roby is playing at the level we expected. Case Keenum hasn’t thrown an interception during the Broncos streak. Garett Bolles has found a next level. The patchwork offensive line, with Bolles as the anchor has had consecutive solid performances.
Colby Wadman is masterful at pinning opponents inside the 20. The subtle field position game is important in every NFL game, a solid punter matters. Brandon McManus is solid though he’s struggled beyond 50 yards.
The biggest positive for this Denver squad has been Phillip Lindsay. We know he’s fourth in the NFL in rushing, just 17 yard behind fellow rookie Saquon Barkley, his competition for offensive rookie of the year. Lindsay has shown that he’s not a flash or a flare-up, he’s a solid, every-down back. He’s been good situationally in addition to his rushing prowess. Oh, and he is fast, in case anyone didn’t notice. His ability to accelerate past pursuers on the outside is something we haven’t seen in Denver and it is exciting to watch.
The Niners are struggling at 2-10 which makes it curious that fans still believe Kyle Shanahan should have been the Broncos choice over Vance Joseph a year-and-a-half ago. They lost their starting QB early, which has hurt their development and they were in a much more dire position than the Broncos were. They are down but Shanahan is a dangerous coach and the Niners are still a talented team.
Still, this is one the Broncos need to win. Even banged-up and weary in the last quarter of a brutal season.