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‘Sunday Night Football’ open thread: 49ers at Broncos

An AFC battle closes out a frustrating football Sunday.

Houston Texans v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The early weeks of an NFL season are when the luster of offseason hype begins to fade and reality sets in. The San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos are no exception, and their respective identity moving forward is up in the air. To say the 2022 season hasn’t started off well for both teams is an understatement. Can that change on ‘Sunday Night Football’ under the night lights?

The Denver Broncos made a splash during the 2022 offseason, acquiring star quarterback Russell Wilson. After having struggled with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, Wilson looked like the final piece needed for Denver to be a Super Bowl favorite. After two weeks, their record sits at 1-1, but how they got to that record is a cause for alarm. The Broncos were stunned by the Seattle Seahawks, a team many expected to rank among the league’s worst. Their Week 2 matchup versus the Houston Texans ended with a victory, but having to rally late to defeat another bad team is not ideal. The supposedly high-octane offense has mustered just 16 points in each of the first two games—that is a trend in need of correction.

As for the San Francisco 49ers, they too entered this season with Super Bowl aspirations, but their path to the title will be far different than they had originally expected. Trey Lance was expected to take the next step as an NFL quarterback following a rookie season that largely amounted to a redshirt year. However, Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2, cutting short his season before it ever got off the ground. With his injury, the burden falls on Jimmy Garoppolo to lead the 49ers offense yet again. The long-time starter for San Francisco, Garoppolo was a trade target throughout the offseason, but nothing materialized. Perhaps disgruntled or perhaps rekindled, the 49ers are Garoppolo’s team once again. The question is: how far can they go?

Here is how to watch tonight’s game:

Date: Sunday, September 25, 2022
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: Empower Field at Mile High—Denver, CO
Announcers: Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, & Melissa Stark

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