Thankfully, the second preseason game for the 49ers was a much better showing for almost everyone.
No one needed a bigger week than Trey Lance, and in the end he delivered. Per his usual, Lance wasn't sharp early, throwing an interception on a busted screen pass. As I said on our Instant Reaction show, he's like a car in the winter - it takes him a minute to get going.
Ultimately, Lance would settle down nicely and lead the 49ers on three consecutive scoring drives. He had a beautiful 22 yard touchdown throw to Cam Latu to pull San Francisco within two, and an eight play, 64 yard drive that ended with the game-winning 32 yard field goal as time expired.
Once he got into a rhythm, Lance was decisive, accurate, and mobile. Everything so many fans had hoped to see from him.
Bell picked up right where he left off last week, leading the 49ers in receiving. This time Bell put up 7 catches on 9 targets for 114 yards, including a 43 yard catch and run on the final possession to get the offense into field goal range.
He did also miss another catch that led to an interception, but so far Bell has 10 catches for 172 yards this year, and appears to be a favorite of Kyle Shanahan due to his route running, tackle-breaking, and toughness.
We have seen this team pluck starting linebackers from beyond the first day of the draft, and it certainly looks like Graham is doing everything he can to add his name to that list.
He was everywhere against the Broncos - chasing down ball carriers, and blowing up plays in the backfield. Tha stat sheet won't do him justice (2 solo tackles), but the film sure will. When he sees it, Graham is off like a missile.
Trey Lance did not enter this game until the third series of the third quarter. That is simply inexcusable given the lack of reps for Lance in his career.
Last week Kyle said he wanted to get 5 more snaps in the second half but held back, yet now he ignores his plan and gives Sam the ball twice in the second half? Ridiculous.
We know what Darnold is at this point. He's had 56 games over five seasons to show us. There's just no reason for Trey Lance to get into the game for the first time with 1:22 left in the third quarter.
Gray has been constantly injured in his young career and that continued against the Broncos thanks to a collarbone injury.
Even with almost no playing time as a 49er, Gray is perpetually nursing something. This is literally the worst way to follow up a one-reception rookie year - particularly with Ray-Ray McCloud already injured.
The Offensive Line
I know, I know, most were second and third stringers. I don't care. You still need to be able to at least hold your own out there, and San Francisco could not.
Darnold was sacked twice, Brock once, and Trey would have been taken down multiple times without some nifty scrambling. When they weren't giving up sacks, they are holding and negating some nice plays in the fourth quarter.
This preseason has given me flashbacks to the bad old days of Richard Hightower's special teams units.
In two games we've seen penalties during multiple returns, fumbled punts, shanked punts, poor kickoff coverage, and poor field goal kicking.
Hey, Brian: What would you say you do here?
Photo credit: Stan Szeto, USA Today