If the San Francisco 49ers expected teams to take them and the 2-10 record lightly as they finished the third quarter, they were taught a lesson about how playoff-caliber teams approach the season.
Seattle laid a 43-16 whipping on the 49ers, who never seemed too interested in playing football. The frustration of Kyle Shanahan was evident on the sideline as Matt Breida went down and his defense gave up four touchdowns on only 11 pass completions.
Now the Niners face the resilient Broncos, who received some bad injury news this week when leading receiver Emmanuel Sanders tore an Achilles tendon in a non-contact practice Wednesday. With Demaryius Thomas traded to Houston, the Broncos will rely on rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton.
Sutton comes off his biggest game of the year, while Hamilton led the team in snaps last week, but did not catch a pass. There are no experienced wide receivers behind this pair, with Tim Patrick likely to be tapped as the WR-3. Devontae Booker could also be called on to man the slot.
Phillip Lindsay just racked up 157 rushing yards, and the team might need similar performances to help distract the defenses for the receivers. Royce Freeman isn’t as flashy but could see some more carries if the running game takes over.
Injuries and notes
Sanders could miss part of next season, too because of this injury. Denver cornerback Chris Harris is out for this game. Several other defensive players are listed as questionable but expected to play.
Matt Breida (ankle) is out, while Marquise Goodwin (personal), and Pierre Garcon (knee) could also miss this week’s action.
Both of the 49ers’ starting safeties are questionable.
Kyle Shanahan is taking plenty of notes and you can bet that while he is being given a do-over on this injury-riddled season, a bunch of players won’t be back if they don’t look more interested in playing football over the final four weeks.
Vance Joseph can’t catch a break. Just as sportswriters were crowning the Broncos as the favorites among a slew of 6-6 teams vying for a wild-card spot, his most important veteran is lost. The Broncos rookies have the skill, but can anyone replace the leadership of Sanders? If the Broncos survive to make some playoff noise, it could save Joseph’s job. If they slip out of the postseason, fair or not, there could be a new man holding the clipboard come 2019.
How to watch the 49ers-Broncos game
Much of the Western United States can tune into this game via DirecTV’s live stream feed of the CBS broadcast. DirecTV carries all the NFL action you can handle and lets you watch it on any internet connected device.
DirecTV Now also carries dozens of movie and entertainment channels for when there is no game. Best of all, they deliver all that for a fraction of what cable and satellite cost.
Internet TV providers, like DirecTV Now, Sling TV, and Fubo TV don’t require any expensive or unsightly equipment. They’ll never ask you to sign a contract, either. You sign up for a monthly subscription you can cancel easily at any time.
Check out their websites and sign up for a free trial. You’ll quickly understand why so many of your neighbors have already done away with cable and satellite.
Read More: NFL Week 16 Game Preview: Broncos at Raiders
Who will win the 49ers-Broncos game?
Denver took a blow with Sanders’ injury, but they also made it through the toughest first ten-games on the NFL schedule to emerge in prime position for a playoff run. There is a character on this team, as well as a bunch of inexperienced rookies who don’t know when they are supposed to lose.
San Francisco is simply evaluating talent for next season. It will be obvious from watching this game.