3 concerns 49ers should have about Week 3 vs. Broncos

Defensive end Arik Armstead #69 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes against tackle Louis Vasquez #65 of the Denver Broncos (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Defensive end Arik Armstead #69 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes against tackle Louis Vasquez #65 of the Denver Broncos (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) /

8:20 p.m. ET. 1-1. 42. NBC. Sunday, Sept. 25. 49ers -1.5. 1-1. 45

The 49ers square off against the Broncos on Sunday Night Football, and these three pressing concerns should worry head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad.

In theory, the San Francisco 49ers should have little trouble knocking off the scuffling 1-1 Denver Broncos, whose record on the season is more indicative of some luck against the sub-par Houston Texans in Week 2 than anything else.

Even with quarterback Russell Wilson now in the fray, Denver’s offense has mustered a mere 16 points in each of the two games it played thus far, and head coach Nathaniel Hackett looks to be in over his head.

Seriously, it’s OK for him to use timeouts.

Originally, the Niners opened up as slight road underdogs for this matchup. However, the oddsmakers over at WynnBET have since shifted the line, making San Francisco a 1.5-point favorite for this Week 3 Sunday Night Football bout.

And while the Broncos do have some strong suits on their roster, it’s not hard to assume the 49ers are, pound for pound, the clear favorite here.

However, there are plenty of challenges the Niners will face outside of just being the road team playing at a mile-high elevation.

Here are three head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. should probably worry about this Sunday.

49ers worry No. 3: Broncos already in desperation mode

A prime reason why Denver brought in Wilson was not only to compete within the AFC West but to also make some serious headway within the stacked conference as a whole.

Through two games, that hasn’t exactly panned out.

True, the Las Vegas Raiders are 0-2, so it’s not all bad for Hackett and Co. And being tied with the Los Angeles Chargers, the Broncos’ prospectus for remaining in the thick of the divisional race isn’t awful just yet.

However, Week 1 was a game Denver needed to win, and it’s likely circling Week 3 against San Francisco as a vital game, too, especially considering the Kansas City Chiefs are already 2-0 and there are two more divisional matchups in the three weeks following the Broncos’ game versus the 49ers.

Simply put, this calls for some desperation to bounce back from Denver’s vantage point, and it’s likely Hackett will want to pull out all the stops to get above .500 before that crucial stretch.

49ers worry No. 2: Broncos defense is pretty good, too

The Niners are tied for having the third-best scoring defense through two weeks, allowing only 26 points combined in those two contests.

Know with whom they’re tied with? The Broncos.

Granted, San Francisco has a notable edge in yards allowed per play (4.1 to Denver’s 4.5), and the 49ers enter the game with the No. 1 pass defense and the fewest rush yards allowed per attempt (2.6). Yet one might fairly question whether or not that data is skewed because the Niners haven’t exactly faced off against an elite offense yet. Neither the Chicago Bears nor Seattle Seahawks should count as such.

True, the Broncos haven’t exactly faced prolific offenses either, yet Denver’s defense might have to be the calling card of the team if Wilson and the offense continue to struggle.

What’s possible is for a low-scoring affair to be on the table Sunday night, and that could lead to a fluke play, costly penalty, a turnover or even Wilson making some late-game heroics that turn the tide in favor of Denver.

49ers worry No. 3: Russell Wilson is still Russell Wilson

San Francisco fans know all too well how Wilson tormented the 49ers over the last 10 years, sometimes even struggling early in games before unleashing some dagger-type pass down the field that would turn the tide in favor of Seattle.

Houston found this out to a small regard in Week 2 with Wilson completing a game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference-maker.

At least Wilson won’t be doing that with the Seahawks anymore, but it doesn’t erase the fact he owns a career 16-4 regular-season record over the Niners, and San Francisco’s victories over Wilson have been awfully hard to come by.

Related Story: 49ers rivalry with Seahawks is dead with Russell Wilson gone

Wilson was held back late in his “come back” game versus Seattle in Week 1, and perhaps that led to an emotional “let down” of sorts versus Houston in which he completed only 14 of his 31 pass attempts.

However, Wilson should have no trouble amping himself back up in what’s essentially a re-sparked rivalry against the 49ers on Sunday night, and that’s troubling.

The Niners and Broncos kick off on Sunday, Sept 25 at 8:20 p.m. from Empower Field at Mile High.

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