On Saturday, Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos offense had a much better showing against the San Francisco 49ers despite a 21-20 loss. How did Javonte Williams and other players look in Week 2 of the preseason?

Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers recap

The Denver Broncos lost Saturday’s preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers after the third-team defense struggled to contain several big chunk plays late, allowing a game-winning field goal.

Javonte Williams makes his return for the Denver Broncos offense

Javonte Williams returned from last season’s injury and was the focal point of the Denver Broncos offense on their first drive. Williams was the main target on Denver’s first four plays, as Sean Payton wanted to get him involved early on.

Williams hauled in two catches for 16 yards, including a 12-yard reception from Russell Wilson on the second play from scrimmage.

Wilson’s returned athleticism and mobility were back on display in Denver’s first series, where he had three rushers for 25 yards, excluding another run of 16 yards that was called back due to a holding call on Courtland Sutton.

Denver’s first offensive drive showed some promising signs on a 13-play scoring drive that saw Brett Maher make one from 48 yards out to tie the game 3-3.

Overall, the operation from Wilson and the first team offense was clean and efficient, with minimal mistakes. It was enough in the eyes of Sean Payton for them to pull Wilson after just one series of play.

Notables for the Broncos starters on offense

Left guard Ben Powers seemingly struggled for the second consecutive week in pass protection, surrendering a sack by T.Y. McGill on Jarrett Stidham.

Denver’s offensive line was much better when Russell Wilson was in than last week, but the All-22 tape will give us more insight into the overall operation from left to right.

However, seeing the Broncos generate over 66 yards on the ground in the short stint where starters were on the field was a promising step in the right direction.

Javonte Williams finished the evening with three carries for 12 yards and four receptions for 18 yards.

Russell Wilson finished the evening 3-of-6 passing for 24 yards and three carries for 25 yards.

Backup running back Samaje Perine finished the evening with three carries for 22 yards.

Denver Broncos starting defense

After allowing some chunk yardage on their first overall series, the Denver Broncos defense held firm in a goal-line stand. Jonathon Cooper started in place of Frank Clark and came up with a sack on 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy to take them out of a goal-line situation.

Denver’s second defensive series saw them force a quick three and out after Damarri Mathis had a perfect pass breakup on 3rd and 5. 

The Broncos’ third series saw Jonathon Cooper force a clean pressure on Sam Darnold, who was forced to spin directly into Josey Jewell and Randy Gregory. Cooper’s pressure has been consistent throughout training camp and the preseason.

Caden Sterns, Patrick Surtain, and Jonathon Cooper sat out the fourth defensive series of the game that featured starters. Besides those players, most of the starters remained in the game in the first half.

Frank Clark saw his first preseason action in a rotation role opposite Nik Bonitto. Zach Allen tallied his first sack as a member of the Broncos in the final two minutes of the first half.

Gregory and Clark saw action through the early parts of the fourth quarter.

Young players who stood out in the Denver Broncos loss

Who were the various young players that stood out during the Denver Broncos preseason loss on Saturday?

Jaleel McLaughlin

The Denver Broncos have a player whose speed is unmatched on the field. Undrafted rookie free agent Jaleel McLaughlin did it all on Saturday night in the Broncos’ loss.

The Youngstown State product had seven carries for 45 yards and one rushing touchdown, two receptions for eight yards, and one touchdown. He also had a 46-yard kick return in the fourth quarter, giving the Broncos great starting field position.

His speed, ball-carrier vision, and electric movement are something the Broncos don’t have enough of currently on their roster. Saturday’s performance was another strong case for him to win the team’s RB3 job behind Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine.

Essang Bassey

Denver Broncos cornerback Essang Bassey continues his strong off-season campaign after securing his second preseason interception.

In Week 1, he had a 31-yard return of an interception against the Arizona Cardinals. Bassey snagged an interception from a tipped pass while playing the safety position in Saturday’s game.

Bassey finished the game with one tackle and one interception. He and Ja’Quan McMillian continue to maximize their reps at the nickel and outside while being impact special teams players.

Elijah Garcia

For two consecutive weeks, Broncos defensive lineman Elijah Garcia has made some big plays as he looks to secure a roster spot as a depth option.

Last week he registered two sacks against the Arizona Cardinals. On Saturday, he snagged an interception from a deflection that gave the Broncos offense the ball back with good field position.

He and Matt Henningsen have been consistent in their preseason sample size through two games, giving them an evident advantage to make the roster as depth contributors.

During Saturday’s game, Garcia’s motor was displayed, drawing a holding call in the fourth quarter, which helped force the 49ers to settle for a field goal.

Other Denver Broncos news and notes vs. San Francisco

The Denver Broncos came away from Saturday’s preseason game relatively healthy during game action. What were some other standout observations from Saturday’s loss?

Denver Broncos Injury Report vs 49ers

  • Wide receiver Jalen Virgil suffered a knee injury on his 50-yard reception and did not return. He was carted off the field.

Notable stats and observations from the Broncos second preseason game against the 49ers

  • Undrafted rookie Alex Palczewski had a terrific down block in the fourth quarter that sprung running back Tony Jones Jr. open for a 43-yard gain.
  • Defensively, the Broncos allowed over 422 yards of offense from San Francisco.
  • The Broncos’ offense finished Saturday’s game with over 167 yards rushing, whereas Denver’s defense held the 49ers to only 99 total yards rushing.
  • The Broncos’ defense secured two interceptions in Saturday’s loss, sacked 49ers quarterbacks three times, forced three fumbles, and recovered one.
  • Denver was 5-of-13 on third down while holding San Francisco to 4-of-11.
  • Broncos punter Riley Dixon had four punts on the evening, averaging 60.3 yards per punt with a long of 65 yards.
  • Kicker Brett Maher was 2-of-2 on field goals and made both extra points on Saturday.
  • Broncos third-round rookie linebacker Drew Sanders finished Saturday’s game with a team-high six tackles.
  • Broncos backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham finished Saturday’s game going 12-of-17 passing for 130 yards and was sacked twice.
  • Wide receiver Jalen Virgil hauled in the game’s biggest play from scrimmage (50 yards) in Saturday’s loss.

What’s next?
The Denver Broncos will conduct joint training camp practices with the Los Angeles Rams this week before their third and final preseason game.