DENVER — Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders and 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo each made a triumphant return to action Monday night when the San Francisco 49ers’ backups engineered a 24-15 preseason win over the Denver Broncos.
Garoppolo was glad to get back on the field, even though he went just 1 for 6 for zero yards and an interception in his first game since suffering a season-ending knee injury last September.
“It’s something I haven’t done in a year obviously, so I’ve got to knock the rust off,” Garoppolo said. “Thankfully we have a short week this week so we can bounce back quickly. First step of getting back into it.”
Garoppolo’s first pass was knocked down by defensive lineman Shelby Harris and his second one was intercepted by cornerback Isaac Yiadom when he was pressured by Bradley Chubb. His third pass was tipped and cornerback De’Vante Bausby broke up his fourth attempt.
Chris Harris Jr. pressured Garoppolo into an incompletion from his end zone before Garoppolo finally completed a screen pass to running back Matt Breida, who was corralled by Shelby Harris at the San Francisco 6 for no gain.
“It’s a big hurdle to get out there for the first time but we haven’t seen any issues with the knee,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I forget about it except he’s wearing a brace.”
The knee wasn’t on Garoppolo’s mind, either.
“I wasn’t thinking about it so I was happy about that,” Garoppolo said. “It didn’t bother me too much.”
Broncos safety Justin Simmons said that while he was pleased with how Denver stifled Garoppolo, the quarterback’s stat line was by no means a barometer of where he is in his comeback.
“It helps because we practiced against him twice. I mean, he still has it,” Simmons said. “You watched him in practice and he made a lot of nice throws, he made a lot of nice reads and he helped us big-time in our development throughout the week.”
Based on their work together over three days, Simmons said football fans should expect big things from the Niners’ offense and Denver’s defense this season. that.”
The 49ers play at the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday night.