Game Plan and Matchups v. 49ers

The Denver Broncos will be fired up for Sunday's game against San Francisco if their playoff berth hasn't been clinched. Their approach might change if their playoff seed has been clinched before kickoff, which is possible.

SERIES HISTORY: 11th meeting. The Denver Broncos have a 6-4 edge in the series against the San Francisco 49ers. That doesn't count one playoff game, a 55-10 49ers win in Super Bowl XXIV. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan helped lead San Francisco to their last Super Bowl, at the end of the 1994 season, as the team's offensive coordinator. He became Broncos coach the following year.

GAME PLAN: The Broncos will be fired up for Sunday's game if their playoff berth hasn't been clinched. Their approach might change if their playoff seed has been clinched before kickoff, which is possible.

Unlike last week, when the Broncos focused on stopping Cincinnati's passing game, they will probably load up against 49ers running back Frank Gore, one of the best in the NFL. Denver would like to get an early lead and take Gore out of the game.

Offensively, the Broncos should be able to move the ball against the 49ers. They would like to establish the run early and not put too much pressure on rookie quarterback Jay Cutler, although Cutler has seemed very comfortable in his last two starts.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Broncos WR Javon Walker vs. 49ers CB Walt Harris. The 49ers need Harris to put the clamps on Walker, who has more than twice as many yards as Denver's second-leading receiver. Walker and Jay Cutler have connected on a pair of long touchdowns the last two weeks.

--Broncos OT George Foster vs. 49ers DT Bryant Young. Young, a veteran, could cause some problems for the Broncos. Foster kept his starting job even though Adam Meadows was active last week. Whether it's Foster or Meadows at right tackle, slowing down Young is the top priority on the line.

--Broncos LB D.J. Williams and S Domonique Foxworth vs. 49ers TE Vernon Davis. Usually, safety Sam Brandon would match up with Davis in the Broncos "big nickel" defense. But Brandon is done for the season. Davis, who had 91 yards last week, is a threat for a few big plays in the passing game.

INJURY IMPACT: LB Al Wilson has a thumb injury and his back is hurting. He was held out of practice Wednesday but the Broncos are confident he'll play.

--LB Keith Burns has an injured hand, and he's questionable on the injury report. He did practice on Wednesday and should be ready for Sunday's game.

--WR Javon Walker has wrist and shoulder injuries, but he practiced on Wednesday and is probable to play on Sunday.

--CB Darrent Williams practiced on Wednesday. He sat out Cincinnati's last drive last Sunday because of back spasms but should play this week.



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