Broncos' quarterback question remains unanswered after loss to 49ers

DENVER -- If Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak had hoped to find an answer to his rather large quarterback question in Saturday's preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, consider that wish largely unfulfilled.

Maybe Kubiak will find something in the details when he looks at it again, but with the second preseason contest now in the books -- a 31-24 loss to the 49ers -- neither Trevor Siemian nor Mark Sanchez has looked the clear winner.

And that leaves the defending Super Bowl champions, with a stacked roster and high hopes, still wondering who's going to run the show on offense.

QB depth chart: Siemian opened the game and completed 10 of his first 11 passes for 75 yards, a total that included the Broncos' workmanlike, 10-play touchdown drive to open the game. But Siemian's first attempt of the second quarter was an interception returned 42 yards for a touchdown by 49ers safety Eric Reid. Sanchez looked efficient at times and had a tidy drive going in the final two minutes of the opening half before losing a fumble at the San Francisco 15. And when the Broncos got the ball back again before halftime deep in 49ers territory, Sanchez fumbled it away again. Sanchez was also unable to move the team to open the third quarter when the Broncos defense recovered another fumble in 49ers territory; Sanchez took three sacks overall Saturday. Rookie Paxton Lynch finished up and looked unsettled early in his stint -- he completed one of his first five passes, five of his first 11 -- but did cobble together a pair of scoring drives amid a 15-for-26, 113-yard effort, with two touchdowns and an interception.

Maybe that dude could start: Bradley Roby probably would start if he were on almost any other team. The cornerback did get the call Saturday because Aqib Talib was not in uniform. Throughout camp, Roby consistently has had the look -- and has played with the confidence -- of a starter. And against the 49ers he again showed why he gives the Broncos so many options in coverage when Talib and Chris Harris Jr. are both in the lineup. Harris and Roby gave 49ers starter Blaine Gabbert very little room to work on the outside.

Who got hurt: Tackle/guard Darrion Weems, who has gotten a long look to be the team's starting right guard, left the game because of a concussion and did not return. The fourth-year player will now miss some practice time as he works through the league's concussion protocol. Linebacker Corey Nelson, who is the team's top backup inside, left the game in the second quarter because of a wrist injury and did not return.

A surprise player who impressed: Virgil Green is not a surprise as a player, but his role might be, because the Broncos have long said the tight end is athletic enough to be more involved in the passing game. But those predictions have yet to come to fruition as Green never finished any of his previous five seasons with more than 12 receptions. Yet he was Siemian's favorite target in the early going Saturday, with two receptions in the first four plays of the Broncos' opening drive and finished the first half with four receptions for 57 yards. Green once again has spent the summer offering he's ready for more in the passing game.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Broncos looked ...: Right up until the moment Siemian threw his interception eight seconds into the second quarter, the Broncos were dominant on both sides of the ball. The Broncos scored a touchdown on their opening possession and the defense held the 49ers to three yards on theirs. But after Siemian's interception, Denver never quite seemed to gain that mojo back.

One reason to be concerned: When Kubiak said during the week that Siemian and Sanchez were making the decision on a starting quarterback a difficult one, what happened Saturday night wasn't what he meant. Mistakes are going to happen, but the Siemian and Sanchez mistakes against the 49ers cost Denver points and momentum. Siemian's big error resulted in a 49ers touchdown, and Sanchez's two fumbles in a four-play span on offense -- recovered by the 49ers at the San Francisco 15- and 21-yard lines, respectively -- probably cost the Broncos points twice in the final two minutes of the opening half.

Get noticed: Early in training camp, second-year linebacker Zaire Anderson -- who spent his rookie season on Denver's practice squad -- said he felt much more comfortable in the Broncos' defense and believed he could make more plays "that get you noticed by the coaches." Anderson did just that Saturday night as he forced a fumble late in the first half, then another early in the third quarter. Anderson, because he plays plenty of special teams, could well earn one of the final roster spots at linebacker.

Few happy returns: As at quarterback, consider the hunt for an impact returner still on for the Broncos. Kalif Raymond had kickoff returns of just 14 and 15 yards among four for 83 yards, and the Broncos didn't have a punt return longer than six yards. That all could increase wide receiver Jordan Norwood's chances to keep his roster spot, because while the Broncos would like more speed in the return game -- especially on punt returns -- Norwood is reliable catching the ball and showed some impact with his 61-yard punt return in the Super Bowl, the longest in the title game's history.