Let’s start this a few minutes early …
2:04 p.m. MST: As INVESCO Field sits bathed in flood of welcome sunlight, it’s time for Jacksonville to call Rescue 411. Larry Johnson’s NFL single-season-record 411th carry just gave the Chiefs a crucial first down with 2:21 remaining to drain a little more hope from the Jaguars’ reserves. It appears as though the Broncos will definitely need a win to get into the playoffs.
2:06 p.m. MST: Michael Bennett recovers his own fumble for Kansas City, allowing the Chiefs to keep possession for a third-and-1. Jacksonville is now down to one timeout, so the Chiefs need barely 36 inches to force the Broncos into a win-or-die situation.
2:08 p.m. MST: First down, Chiefs and Larry Johnson. For all intents and purposes, that’s game.
2:13 p.m. MST: San Francisco calls heads, and the coin toss comes up tails. Denver will start the game on offense.
2:16 p.m. MST: Denver opens with one tight end (Tony Scheffler) out of the I-formation, with Tatum Bell at tailback and Kyle Johnson at fullback. Jay Cutler finds Scheffler wide open across the middle on a playfake for 29 yards to open the game.
2:18 p.m. MST: In the end, the Broncos’ chances of backing into the playoffs ended on a Jaguars offsides penalty. Denver must earn its way in and has advanced to the San Francisco 35 on its opening drive, but faces third-and-9.
2:19 p.m. MST: Denver elects to punt from the 49ers 35 after a third-down incompletion. Paul Ernster’s pooch of a punt hits Karl Paymah before Mike Leach downs it; the 49ers will start their opening drive at their 2.
2:21 p.m. MST: Al Wilson is active, but Nate Webster makes the start at middle linebacker.
2:22 p.m. MST: Third-and-seven sees the Broncos in the nickel and D.J. Williams and Ian Gold as the two linebackers. Frank Gore’s three carries go for five yards on the series, and the Broncos end up with a net loss of six yards on the exchange of punts, although they will begin at the 49ers 41.
2:25 p.m. MST: Shawntae Spencer was unblocked on a corner blitz from the left side, and Cutler appeared to have no clue that the defender was closing in on him. However, Cutler held onto the ball, and has done a great job of holding onto the football the last two games after losing his grip on it five times in his first two starts. Denver goes three-and-out.
2:30 p.m. MST: Webster still in at middle linebacker … John Lynch picks up where he left off last week, stopping Vernon Davis on an end-around to force the 49ers into second-and-14 after they got their initial first down of the game.
2:32 p.m. MST: San Francisco gets 12 yards on its next two plays, but calls for a punt … and a fake thereof. Denver diagnosed it perfectly, as Ian Gold scuttled the shovel pass, giving the Broncos splendid field position once again at the San Francisco 40.
2:36 p.m. MST: From one extreme to the other … Cutler throws into traffic and is nearly intercepted by Jeff Ulbrich … but from the near-debacle comes a 15-yard gain after Mark Roman slams into Scheffler after the pass had been tipped away. It’s an unnecessary-roughness penalty, and the Broncos are in field-goal range.
2:39 p.m. MST: The 49ers defense has given the Broncos nearly all the yardage it has gained so far on this drive — 15 yards for unnecessary roughness and 12 yards on a roughing-the-passer infraction. Denver has first-and-10 from the 11 … perhaps my favorite red-zone situation, since you can potentially have eight plays to go 11 yards.
2:43 p.m. MST: It’s six plays, since Tatum Bell gained the first down in two carries. But his two runs are followed by an aborted run play where Mike Bell couldn’t get out of the backfield and a fumbled snap that Cutler falls upon at the 2. Mike Bell promptly loses three yards as Jeff Ulbrich takes him down around the chest.
2:44 p.m. MST: That is the first time all year that the Broncos have failed to score a touchdown in a goal-to-go situation. Jason Elam’s kick puts the Broncos up 3-0.
2:46 p.m. MST: An ugly, low line-drive of a kickoff allows the 49ers to start with their best field position of the day, at their 37-yard-line with 37 seconds left in the quarter.
Tags: San Francisco 49ers