San Francisco (6-9) at Denver (9-6) Sunday 4:15 pm EST
DENVER (Ticker) -- Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan made the
bold move to rookie quarterback Jay Cutler four weeks ago.
Now Cutler is on the verge of helping Shanahan to his latest
playoff appearance Sunday when the Denver Broncos host the San
Francisco 49ers in the season finale for both teams.
Denver would secure a wild-card berth with a win in this contest
or with a Kansas City loss to Jacksonville earlier Sunday.
In his 12th season as Broncos coach, Shanahan has guided the
franchise to a pair of Super Bowl titles and seven playoff
appearances, including three straight.
With his team sporting a 7-4 record, Shanahan made the move to
replace veteran Jake Plummer with Cutler, the 11th pick in
April's draft, as the club's starting quarterback.
After losing his first two starts, Cutler has rebounded to win
his last two, becoming the first quarterback in league history
to throw for multiple touchdowns in each of his first four
games. He has eight TDs and four interceptions overall.
Cutler threw for 179 yards and two touchdowns with an
interception in last Sunday's 24-23 wild victory over
Cincinnati. The victory was secured when the Bengals botched
a snap on an extra point with 41 seconds remaining.
Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey also recorded his
league-leading ninth interception in the win over San Francisco.
Closing Mike Nolan's second season as coach, the Niners were
eliminated from playoff contention with last week's 26-20 loss
One of the major bright spots for the Niners this season has
been running back Frank Gore, who leads the NFC with 1,542
rushing yards, 114 more than Tiki Barber of the New York Giants.
Sources: 49ers' Smith could see ban reduced The San Francisco 49ers could get help sooner than expected following this week's bye because outside linebacker Aldon Smith's nine-game suspension could be reduced for good behavior, league sources confirmed Monday.
After being knocked out of playoff contention last week, the San Francisco 49ers are now playing for pride and want to end the season on a positive note, as they look to rebuild in the offseason. But before getting too far down the road, the 49ers will try and play spoiler to a Broncos' team that still has something to play for with huge playoff implications.
Rookie QB Jay Cutler is now in the midst of a two-game winning streak and has played very well, showing good poise and leadership on the field. QB Alex Smith has shown great improvement in his second year as the 49ers' quarterback. Despite both quarterbacks being young, these two players are poised to be very productive and successful quarterbacks for their respective clubs.
This game also features a very good pair of rookie running backs in Frank Gore for the 49ers and Mike Bell of the Broncos. Both of these runners have very good power and vision to set up their blocks and make positive yards, making for an exciting matchup. This game looks to be a battle of which team will be able to establish the run game and how well two young quarterbacks are able to manage their respective offenses.