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Guess who and where the Broncos play in a 2018 regular-season game?
A hint: The location is where the Broncos won their last Big Game, and the opponent will be a team with a daunting, dazzling Denver connection.
Santa Clara, Calif., and the 49ers.
Did I just get your attention?
This could be The Game of Thrones and the Game of Thorns!
Can you say Broncos, 49ers, Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch, John Elway, Stanford, Vance Joseph, 55-10 Super Bowl, 24-10 Super Bowl and perhaps – y’all ready for this? – Mike Shanahan?
How about Gary Kubiak, too?
Be still your heart!
I’d tell you to mark the game in bold on your 2018 calendar, but the exact date won’t be released until next spring.
It has all the possibilities of a “War Of The Worlds Apocalypse Now Larger Than Life Its Ownself’’ kind of matchup.
Because of the NFL division and conference rotation schedule, the 2018 season will have AFC West division teams – the Denver Broncos, the Kansas Chiefs, the then Los Angeles Chargers and the soon-to-Las Vegas Raiders – playing against the NFC West, composed of the Seattle Seahawks, the Arizona Cardinals, the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers.
The last time teams from these two divisions collided in the regular season was in 2014 -- back when the Rams were in St. Louis; the Chargers were in San Diego, and Mike McCoy was the head coach; John Fox was the coach in Denver, Peyton Manning was the Broncos’ quarterback, and the Broncos were coming off a Super Bowl defeat; the Raiders were awful and strategizing for a new stadium in Oakland, and Derek Carr was their rookie quarterback; Colin Kaepernick was the rising young quarterback for the 49ers and stood for the National Anthem, and San Francisco had a new coach in Jim Tomsula, and the Seahawks were defending Super Bowl champions.And the Broncos and the 49ers opened the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara in an exhibition game, with a 34-0 shutout by the Broncos. In the regular season in Denver the Broncos again blew out the 49ers, 42-17.
That year Vance Joseph was the secondary coach in Cincinnati, and Kyle Shanahan also was in Ohio as the offensive coordinator of the Browns.
My, my, the times they do change.
Today, Joseph is the head coach in Denver, and Kyle Shanahan is a week away from taking over officially as head coach of the 49ers. John Lynch could have monumental week, becoming general manager of the 49ers and being selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It’s presumed that Joseph and Shanahan will for the first time as head coaches, with Elway and Lynch as general managers of the two teams still, when the Broncos-49ers game is played sometime in ’18.
Oh, Mike Shanahan is expected to join the 49ers in an advisory or front-office capacity, and who knows who will be the quarterbacks for the franchises?
Here’s a bold prediction:
Kubiak returns to the NFL as the offensive coordinator for San Francisco – rejoining his former offensive coordinator, the younger Shanahan, and his former head coach and boss – the elder Shanahan?
The brain freezes over with thoughts of the prospects.
Remember, of course, that the 49ers once beat the Broncos – who had Mike Shanahan as an assistant coach and Elway as the quarterback – in the Super Bowl, 55-10. But the Broncos have won three Super Bowls since – the first two with Elway as the quarterback, Shanahan as the head coach of the Broncos and Gary Kubiak as the offensive coordinator, and the third a year ago at this time (in Santa Clara, of all places) with Elway as the executive vice president in charge of all he surveys and Kubiak as his head coach.
It is well to recall that Mike Shanahan was the offensive coordinator of the 49ers from 1992-94, with San Francisco winning the Super Bowl in that final season. Kubiak was San Fran’s quarterbacks coach. The quarterback was Steve Young, who came thisclose to joining Shanahan and Kubiak in Denver before he ultimately decided to retire.
Kyle Shanahan was a teenager in ’94. Joseph was a backup quarterback for the Colorado Buffaloes.
Elway and Lynch both graduated from Stanford, and both had Shanahan as their head coach in Denver – but not at the same time.
So, the Shanahans could be reunited with the 49ers, with Lynch on their side, and they would go against the Elway Broncos and a franchise that still belongs to Pat Bowlen, who was over all of these people at one time or two or several.
And which will have the better team and coach and general manager in ’18 – the Broncos or the 49ers?
You should start planning to travel to the game in Santa Clara.