The wait for No. 2 wasn’t nearly as long. After the Broncos recovered a fumbled exchange between Alex Smith and center Jonathan Goodwin, Manning hit Eric Decker for a second touchdown pass of the day. Decker looked like he might have been juggling the ball as he went out of bounds, but the FOX broadcast didn’t show a lot of replays of the catch.
The Broncos made it seem like they were eager to see more of Manning after three scores on three possessions because they tried an onside kick after Decker’s second touchdown. Matthew Willis made contact before the ball traveled 10 yards, though, and the 49ers scored on their first play when Smith hit Vernon Davis for a 44-yard touchdown. Caleb Hanie took the field with the rest of the starting offense after the score, ending a successful day for Manning.
Manning said this week that there was a chance he’d play less than expected after playing more than the Broncos planned in the second preseason game because of turnovers. There wasn’t much left to see from Manning after three drives, leaving the Broncos to sort out their backup quarterback depth chart for the rest of the afternoon.
He completed 10-of-12 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Manning threw the ball to six different targets and the Broncos showed a few different offensive looks, including a fair amount of empty backfields. Willis McGahee moved the ball well on the ground while Manning was in the game to round out a strong offensive performance. Denver will see more exotic defenses than they saw from the 49ers, so there are still challenges ahead for Manning but he looked capable of handling them during his brief appearance on Sunday.