Now, perhaps the only question that remains in the Denver Broncos‘ quarterback competition will be whether Vance Joseph saw enough in their preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night in Levi’s Stadium to officially make the call on who will be the starter.
Because Siemian started the preseason opener in Chicago on Aug. 10, Lynch was first up against the 49ers and, in almost a full half of work, closed out his night at 9-of-13 passing for 39 yards. The team’s three scoring drives when Lynch was in the game were the result of 49ers turnovers.
That included the touchdown drive that started at the San Francisco 11-yard line after a muffed punt, and a field goal drive that started at the San Francisco 45-yard line after a Brian Hoyer fumble. The Broncos got the ball a third time in 49ers territory before halftime when Chris Lewis-Harris snatched the ball away from 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.
The Broncos led 13-0 when Lynch left the game with scoring drives of 11, 26 and 12 yards under his belt and without a turnover. He played it safe much of the time and missed open receivers when he threw into coverage on back-to-back third-down plays in the first quarter.
But he also flashed his mobility on 10-yard scramble early in the second quarter to go with an 11-yard scramble midway through the frame. He also might have lost a potential scoring pass when officials missed what could have been an illegal-contact call on 49ers cornerback Rashard Robinson against Demaryius Thomas.
Siemian entered the game after the Broncos forced a fourth turnover with just over three minutes remaining in first half. He quickly and efficiently went 4-of-5 passing for 49 yards, and in terms of the quarterback competition, what will get noticed on the coaches’ scorecard was when after a touchdown pass to running back De’Angelo Henderson was negated by a holding penalty, Siemian came back with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Jordan Taylor on the next play.
Siemian finished his night early in the fourth quarter having gone 8-of-11 passing for 91 yards and the score.
Joseph has said it would be “ideal’’ to name a starting quarterback by the time the Broncos play their third preseason game next Saturday night against the visiting Green Bay Packers. Joseph has also said he didn’t consider that a deadline and would take more time if he didn’t see “separation.’’
And president of football operations/general manager John Elway made it clear earlier this week what he was looking for in Saturday’s game against the 49ers. Elway wanted to see leadership to go with the work of running the offense.
“We’d like the decision made by itself,’’ Elway said after Thursday’s joint practice with the 49ers. “We’ve talked about that decision being made by itself. We want one of them to take the reins and take over; it would be the ideal situation. We’re getting through this game and we’ll go from there, see what happens.’’
The Broncos will have a full week of work before the game with the Packers, which should be the final preseason appearance for the team’s regulars.