SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Paxton Lynch led three scoring drives in his bid for the starting quarterback job, Denver forced four turnovers in the first half and the Broncos beat the San Francisco 49ers 33-14 on Saturday night.
Trevor Siemian, who started Denver’s preseason opener a week ago, came off the bench to throw a touchdown pass, C.J. Anderson rushed for 24 yards and a score and Brandon McManus kicked four field goals for the Broncos (2-0).
Denver still isn’t likely much closer to making a decision on whom the starter will be despite vice president of football operations John Elway’s plea earlier this week that one of the two take control of the job.
Lynch was 9 of 13 and showed good pocket presence by scrambling out of trouble a few times, but managed only 39 yards through the air in less than two quarters. Siemian put up more passing numbers (49) on his first drive and finished 8 of 11 for 93 yards.
As good as their offense was, the Broncos’ defense was better despite being without linebackers Von Miller and Brandon Marshall and cornerback T.J. Ward.
Denver converted the three turnovers – two fumble recoveries and an impressive interception by Chris Lewis-Harris, who wrestled the ball from 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin as both men fell to the turf – into 13 points.
San Francisco’s Brian Hoyer was 8 of 11 for 89 yards and an interception while garnering a 58.5 passer rating. Third-round draft pick C.J. Beathard passed for 110 yards and a touchdown in his attempt to beat out Matt Barkley for the backup job.
Multiple scuffles broke out when the teams held joint practices earlier in the week, but the game was relatively tame in comparison. After San Francisco linebacker Dekoda Watson was called for unnecessary roughness on the opening drive, both squads settled down.
Broncos left tackle Garrett Boles had a forgettable first half. The 20th overall selection was whistled for three holding penalties and a false start in the first half. One of the holding calls negated a touchdown, while the false start came on third-and-1. Boles was born in nearby Walnut Creek, although he grew up in Utah.
San Francisco first-rounder Reuben Foster was mostly quiet, although the rookie linebacker showed good speed and range to bring down Anderson near the sidelines in the second quarter. Foster played despite suffering a sprain in his surgically repaired right shoulder during the practices with the Broncos.
The teams combined for 22 penalties for 176 yards, although it could have been much worse. During a punt return in the third quarter, five flags were thrown on the same play including four on the Broncos. When the dust settled, the penalties offset and the play was re-run.
Both teams were without several key players. San Francisco sat defensive lineman DeForest Buckner (ankle), left guard Joshua Garnett (knee) and cornerback Jimmie Ward (hamstring), while Denver was missing running backs Devontae Booker (wrist) and Jamaal Charles (knee) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (shoulder).