In their worst loss of the season, the depleted 49ers were battered and bruised on both sides of the ball as the Denver Broncos put a 42-17 hurting on a downtrodden San Francisco squad.
Denver QB Peyton Manning cemented his legacy among all-time greats by throwing the 510th touchdown pass of his career, surpassing Brett Favre‘s previous record of 508 by the second quarter of Sunday’s game.
Manning picked apart a 49ers secondary decimated by injuries to starters LB Patrick Willis and CB Chris Culliver by completing 22-of-26 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns before being taken out late in the game.
The 49ers were beat on both sides of the ball, while mounting injuries along the offensive line left QB Colin Kaepernick susceptible to pressure from Broncos defensive standouts DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller, who tallied five combined sacks while disrupting the passing game.
Kaepernick was unable to move the ball against a tough Broncos defense, throwing for 263 yards while completing 24-of-39 passes on his night.
With three minutes left in the first quarter, Brett Favre received company in the history books when Manning threw his 508th career touchdown on just the seventh pass of the game.
Manning found a sprinting WR Wes Welker down the sidelines, whose dive into the end zone just reached the pylons for a 39-yard score and a 14-0 Broncos lead.
After starting the game off with a disappointing pair of drives, QB Colin Kaepernick put a charge into the sulking 49ers offense, leading his team 83 yards down field until the 49ers were faced with their familiar red zone struggles.
San Francisco had an opportunity for a touchdown, but WR Anquan Boldin couldn’t wrangle in the uncontested pass from Kaepernick that would have left the usually steady-handed veteran open to trot into the end zone.
The 49ers settled for a 22-yard chip shot from Dawson to get on the board, trailing Denver 14-3.
Manning cemented his place in the history books with his 509th touchdown pass of his career, surpassing Favre for sole possession of the new NFL record. Manning earned his record finding TE Demaryius Thomas flashing towards the right corner of the end zone for a 21-3 bulge.
Kaepernick wouldn’t take solace in the historic moment for long, as he led his team on a 7-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown reception by WR Stevie Johnson that cut the lead to 21-10 with just 11 seconds left in the first half.
Manning commanded his most efficient drive of the night following a Kaepernick interception just three minutes into the second half. After taking over at the 49ers 40-yard line, Manning hurled just one pass for his fourth touchdown of the night, finding Thomas for a 28-10 Broncos lead.
Third-year running back Hillman broke off a 37-yard touchdown run to break the game open for Denver with a 35-10 score. He would score again on the following drive, rushing for a one-yard touchdown after a pass interference penalty.
With a 42-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter, Manning conceded his night to backup Brock Osweiler, who would run out the clock against the tamed 49ers offense.
More worrisome than even the loss were mounting injuries to key contributors to San Francisco on offense and defense. C Daniel Kilgore went down with what looked like a serious injury after having his leg and ankle area rolled upon by LB Brandon Marshall.
An injury to rookie Dillon Farrell, who filled in for Kilgore, left the 49ers struggling offensive line even thinner.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game they Kilgore has a fractured leg, which may likely end his season. Rookie Marcus Martin and Farrell remain options to replace Kilgore for the remainder of the season.
The 49ers’ bye week couldn’t have come at a more urgent time, as rest will get the 49ers top-tier players closer to the field and a Week 9 home matchup hosting the St. Louis Rams Nov. 2.