ReFo: 49ers @ Broncos, Week 7
Yet another team and yet another record fell to Peyton Manning and the Broncos as Ben Stockwell reviews their matchup against San Francisco on Sunday Night.
ReFo: 49ers @ Broncos, Week 7
On Monday Night the San Francisco 49ers spotted the St Louis Rams a 14-3 lead before fighting back to eventually win by two touchdowns. This week, that same slow start came back to bite them as on a record setting night as Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos built a 21-3 lead. They then extended it in the second half after the 49ers again came up with a score late in the first half to narrow the deficit.
Against the Rams on Monday a depleted 49er defense was able to play its part in the turnaround, but last night they had no answer for Manning as he made short work of them and Brett Favre’s career passing touchdown mark. Corners, safeties and linebackers alike had no answers in coverage and a slew of first half drops stunted the 49ers ability to keep up with the high scoring Broncos.
San Francisco 49ers – Performances of Note
Stevie Johnson, WR, +2.6
Breakdown: Last week it was Brandon Lloyd coming up with the big play in the 49ers’ receiving corps. This week it was Johnson who was able to set aside the drops of his teammates and come up with the goods. Working against Kayvon Webster and Rahim Moore for the most part, Johnson added 33 yards after the catch to earn his highest grade since Week 2 last season.
Signature Play: Recorded the 49ers’ second longest play from scrimmage early in the second quarter (13:17), evading a tackle from T.J. Ward to setup a 31 yard gain.
Chris Borland, LB: -2.4 & Michael Wilhoite, LB: -2.3
Breakdown: Though Manning’s touchdown passes were outside the hash marks, half of his pass attempts came over the middle on short and intermediate passes as he tested and exploited the 49ers reserve inside linebackers. Both players had been solid in the absence of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman respectively but they were no match for Manning last night.
Signature Stat: Targeted a combined eight times in coverage, each pass was completed for a total of 97 yards with 63 coming after the catch.
Anthony Davis, RT: -3.8
Breakdown: This was only Davis’ second outing of this season and in truth this was a rough matchup for him to return to as he understandably struggled against Von Miller. Given little work as a run blocker, Davis was beaten for five pressures by Miller (one nullified) and a couple of other times where quick throws prevented more damage to him.
Signature Play: While DeMarcus Ware was faking spin moves on one side, Von Miller went through with one on Davis beating him to the inside at the 14:21 mark in the fourth.
Denver Broncos – Performances of Note
Demaryius Thomas, WR: +2.7
Breakdown: Bringing in catches against four different 49er defenders in coverage the San Francisco defense struggled to get a handle of Thomas last night. He converted short passes into long gains, intermediate passes into long gains and made a play down the field for Manning’s 510th career touchdown in the third quarter; another spectacular display by Thomas.
Signature Stat: Gained 81 of his 171 yards after the catch; only the third time this season that more his receiving yards have come through the air than after the catch.
Chris Harris, CB: +2.1
Breakdown: Highlighted last week by our own Sam Monson as being among the league’s best corners at this early stage of the season, Harris continues to confound with his rapid return to form after tearing his ACL in January. He was targeted five times last night but only surrendered two receptions for nine yards in the process. Harris has only allowed three catches for 21 yards on 15 targets since the Broncos Week 4 bye.
Signature Play: Snuffed out a screen at 11:41 in the third quickly reading the play to get across the line of scrimmage before Vernon Davis could get out to him, taking down Anquan Boldin for a loss of one to open the drive.
Peyton Manning, QB: +4.5
Breakdown: A record setting and near faultless display from Manning with two of his four incompletions accounted for by drops. The customary fast pace of the Denver offense and a depleted 49ers’ pass rush saw him pressured only six times though that didn’t stop him putting up two of his four touchdowns on those dropbacks.
Signature Play: His best throw of the night probably wasn’t one of his touchdowns, I’d go for the corner route to Emmanuel Sanders with 6:57 in the second, exploiting the space in behind RCB Dontae Johnson and beating FS Antoine Bethea, dropping it perfectly on the sideline for Sanders to make a play.
PFF Game Ball
His receivers and the Hall of Fame played keep away with his record setting touchdown ball but Peyton Manning gets to keep the PFF Game Ball this week after another nearly flawless display.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben
Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.