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49ers vs. Broncos: Question marks for the second preseason game

Carlos Hyde
Carlos Hyde
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers will play their second preseason game of the 2014 season in the first home event at Levi's Stadium on Sunday afternoon. In the first game against the Baltimore Ravens, the 49ers played their second team defense and would eventually lose 23-3.

With the next preseason game about to come, here are five storylines to pay attention to as they take on the Denver Broncos:

1. Will Carlos Hyde build off his success vs. the Baltimore Ravens?

Frank Gore could get a brief appearance in the second preseason game, but Hyde should have a significant amount of playing time. Hyde had 37 rushing yards on five carries in the first game where he helped lead the 49ers to their only score of the game on a short field goal. He had strong vision last week and is expected to contribute.

2. How does Jimmie Ward look?

Ward should receive playing time as both a free safety and nickel cornerback on Sunday. Last week, he was up and down against the air attack of the Ravens and showed good pursuit when tackling. There should be opportunities against the Broncos first-team offense for Ward to showcase himself.

3. Will the 2013 draft picks Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial continue their strides from last week?

Carradine played his first game with 60 snaps last week vs. the Ravens. He had flashes as a pass rusher and held his ground on the defensive line. It would not be surprising if the 49ers played him for another full game to get him ready for the regular season.

Meanwhile, Dial was the best player on the 49ers defense in the first preseason game. He plugged all holes on the interior of the defensive line and finished the game with eight tackles and two assists.

4. Does Blaine Gabbert rebound from his dismal first game?

Gabbert had a horrible performance against the Ravens, but Jim Harbaugh said the team is "pleased" with him out of training camp. He was a former top 10 draft pick in 2011 and is guaranteed money in 2014, but he needs to show some improvement from last week. Colin Kaepernick should play two or three possessions at the most to give the reserves some playing time.

5. Will Chris Cook continue to impress?

Cook has been the largest surprise out of training camp and he showed in the preseason that the momentum has been preserved. He proved to be solid in press coverage and had an interception to highlight last week's performance.

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