Broncos 49ers Football
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San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle runs into the end zone to score a touchdown as Denver Broncos cornerback Isaac Yiadom (41) looks on during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/John Hefti)

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The Gazette's Paul Klee has three quick thoughts from Levi's Stadium on Sunday:

1. It's officially official: the Broncos need a coach and a quarterback. And their slim playoff hopes lost a couple pounds on Sunday. For Kyle Shanahan, this was personal. For Vance Joseph, this too often is the norm. Anyone else have flashbacks to the Dolphins game last season? Then it was Adam Gase showing the Broncos what they missed. Sunday it was Shanahan showing the Broncos what they missed. If Joseph had any chance of returning to coach the Broncos next season, the first half at Levi’s Stadium hopefully shut the door: more penalties (10) than pass completions (7). The Broncos won Super Bowl 50 here. Their forgettable performance on Sunday was the total opposite, with 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (332 yards) outplaying Case Keenum (165 yards) in almost every way.

2. Here’s some background on San Francisco tight end George Kittle: 25 years old, Iowa native, fifth-round draft pick in 2017. Joe Woods and the Broncos defense proceeded to make Kittle look like Shannon Sharpe. Kittle had 210 receiving yards in the first half alone. The 49ers were without tailback Matt Breida and wideout Pierre Garcon, leaving Kittle as one of the few options for quarterback Nick Mullens. And the Broncos still couldn’t find and bring Kittle down.

3. Congrats, Bradley Chubb. With a brilliant inside move that fooled San Francisco’s left tackle, Chubb set the Broncos rookie record with his 12th sack this season. Von Miller had 11.5 as a rookie. Chubb actually lost his footing on the clinching sack, but he recovered to bring down Mullens on 3rd-and-15. Miller also scored a sack in the first half, notable for another reason: while players such as Shane Ray prepared for a sack dance, the veteran recognized the Broncos were losing, 13-0, and didn’t deserve a dance. 


(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

Sports columnist

Denver sports columnist for The Gazette

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