Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders looked great in his return from a torn Achilles while San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo struggled in a preseason clash Monday night at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
Despite Garoppolo's struggles, the Broncos left the field with a 24-15 victory in Denver.
"Obviously I was a little frustrated, but that's the NFL," Garoppolo told reporters. "Unfortunately, we don't get to play the whole game right now, so I only get so many plays. You wish you could be out there for more so we could bounce back. But it is what it is. It's preseason right now, so we just have to take it in stride."
Garoppolo completed just 1-of-6 passing attempts for 0 yards. He also threw an interception. Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco completed 7-of-11 passing attempts for 59 yards in the loss. Garoppolo's interception came on the first drive of the game. The 49ers quarterback thew an incomplete pass on his first attempt of the game. He then stepped back and was picked off by Isaac Yiadom.
The Broncos got a 31-yard field goal from Brandon McManus on the resulting drive to take a 3-0 advantage in the first quarter. Sanders appeared very healthy on the drive, taking a handoff for an electric 19 yard gain while juking defenders en route to a first down.
Sanders was making his first appearance since sustaining his season-ending Achilles tear in December.
"It felt good," Sanders said. "I remember during the [national anthem] I was just looking back. Actually, when I was in the tunnel, I was just thinking about me crawling around after having two surgeries, crawling up the stairs and all the pain I had to go through in order to get back to this moment.
"I almost started crying in the tunnel. Sometimes you've just got to be proud of yourself and how you handle certain situations. In that moment, I was proud of myself and happy that I was back on the team."
Denver and San Francisco exchanged punts on the following five drives. McManus returned to kick a 33-yard field goal on the first drive of the second quarter. Robbie Gould answered with a 42-yard field goal for the 49ers on the next drive, cutting the Broncos' lead to 6-3.
McManus gave the Broncos another three points just before the half by making a 52-yarder.
Raheem Mostert capped off a 7-play, 76-yard drive with a 30 yard rushing score on the 49ers' first drive of the second half, giving San Francisco a 10-0 edge. Jeff Wilson scored a one-yard rushing touchdown for San Francisco two drives later for a 17-9 lead.
Backup quarterback Nick Mullens threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne for San Francisco's final score. The Broncos answered in the fourth quarter with a 24-yard rushing score from quarterback Kevin Hogan.
Sanders had one reception for five yards in addition to his 19-yard rush. Courtland Sutton led all Denver receivers with 26 yards and a score on two receptions. Mostert had 58 yards and a score on six carries. The 49ers running back also led all pass-catchers with 42 receiving yards.
"Anytime you can't get an offensive rhythm, everyone looks that way," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Garoppolo. "We didn't get anyone in rhythm. I wish we could have gotten him in a rhythm. It was very hard to pull him off on the third series because we wanted to go one and two series. One and two good series.
"I think the first one was longer than three plays. I think the second one was a three-and-out. I think the fourth one might have been a four-and-out. We just didn't get going and I had to get those guys out of there."
The 49ers face the Kansas City Chiefs in another preseason game at 8 p.m. EDT Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Broncos battle the Los Angeles Rams at 9 p.m. EDT Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.