SAN FRANCISCO - The Broncos will face off against the 49ers Sunday afternoon in a contest many believe could be a foreshadowing of this year's Super Bowl.
But hold on, it's just week 2 of the preseason.
This contest will officially open Levi's Stadium, putting Candlestick Park to rest as the home of the San Francisco franchise.
John Harbaugh's group is coming off of a 23-3 loss against Baltimore, while Denver is looking to continue their success against the NFC West this preseason, after last week's, 21-16 win over the reigning Super Bowl champion Seahawks.
This is now the second straight year that San Francisco and Denver will face off in preseason play. The Broncos won the 2013 meeting, 10-6, and will also host the 49ers at Sports Authority Field in Week 7 of the regular season on October 19.
Defense will be key on both sides of the ball come the 2 p.m. kick-off on Sunday. The Broncos will be without starting linebacker Danny Trevathan who broke his kneecap during this week's practice. The Kentucky product is expected to miss six to eight weeks and has been replaced by third-year player Brandon Marshall, not to be confused with the former Broncos and current Bears receiver, that shares his name. Von Miller is also still coming back from injury, as is starting cornerback Chris Harris. This will allow Jack Del Rio to continue to plug in younger players, as the 53-man roster is now in need of completion in less than three weeks.
On the other side of the ball, San Francisco is coming off of a defensive performance that forced only nine incomplete passes, but recorded three sacks and four tackles for loss. Their emphasis will be on secondary play and slowing down Peyton Manning and the most potent offense in the league a year ago.
Offensively for Denver, keep an eye on runningback, Juwan Thompson. The rookie out of Duke, rushed for a team-high 59 yards on 5 carries in their preseason opener. C.J. Anderson is coming off of a concussion, while starter Montee Ball continues to be sidelined recovering from an emergency appendectomy last week. Ronnie Hillman and Kapri Bibbs will also see time in the backfield.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is listed as questionable (quad) and has been held out of practice this week. Jordan Norwood is expected to be given more time. The Penn State alumnus caught a 34-yard touchdown in last week's win over Seattle from Brock Osweiler.
Peyton Manning will start for John Fox's club, and is expected to play the first half of the contest. He is coming off of an impressive, but limited 10-13 passing performance in the opener that amassed 78 yards, but included a 61-yard scoring drive. Osweiler will also see significant time, coming off of a 6-12 passing performance, that included a TD and an INT.
Denver is also looking to secure at least a .500 record in the preseason for the 36th time in 41 years.
*Key Match-up: Denver defensive line vs. San Francisco offensive line.
(We know the offense can score, but how will the front-seven perform against one of the best offensive fronts in the league)
(San Fran- Carlos Hyde, RB, 5 carries, 39 yards vs. Juwan Thompson, RB, 5 carries 59 yards)
(San Fran- Quinton Dial, registered a game-high 10 tackles and two forced fumbles)
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