Takeaways from the Broncos vs. 49ers game: Russell Wilson’s shaky performance is saved by the defense as Denver surges late

It wasn’t attractive; in fact, it was utterly repulsive. However, the Broncos have won for the second week in a row. Denver defeated the 49ers on “Sunday Night Football,” forcing three turnovers and a safety to win 11-10, only the second game in NFL history to end with that score. This was despite another difficult stretch for Russell Wilson and the offense. The low-scoring contest moves the Broncos and Chiefs to the top of the AFC West, while San Francisco falls below.500 in the NFC West.

Here are some immediate lessons to be learned from the interconference matchup on Sunday night:

Why the Broncos won:

Nathaniel Hackett’s offense, which is still completely without rhythm, has a defense that can (just) preserve it. In all seriousness, the Denver “D” stood strong when it mattered most. It was tough from beginning to end. The team had four different players sack Jimmy Garoppolo, including Bradley Chubb and Josey Jewell, while only allowing one third-down convert the whole game. Instant pressure on Garoppolo earlier in the night pulled the quarterback out of his own end zone for a safety that would prove crucial in the final score, and a late-game pick and fumble recovery essentially clinched their victory.

Turning point:

Garoppolo’s unintended safety early in the game may have had a significant impact on the final score, but in terms of game flow, Wilson’s fourth-quarter free throws definitely had the biggest impact. With 8:16 remaining and the Broncos trailing 10-5 and unable to advance the ball earlier, Russ took it upon himself to dash and connected with Kendall Hinton on a gorgeous 27-yard pass to set up the team’s lone touchdown of the game. The pressure was instantly on San Francisco to pick up its own offensive once Denver formally claimed the lead.

Play of the game:

The play that Wilson threw to Hinton while in motion was exactly the kind for which the Broncos are paying Wilson a high salary for:

What’s next:

On “Monday Night Football,” the 49ers (1-2) will host another prime-time game against the rival Rams (2-1). While the Raiders (0-3) dropped a close game to the Titans on Sunday, the rival Broncos (2-1) will try to stay above 500 by going to Vegas to play them.