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49ers Lose to Broncos in Preseason Opener

Posted Aug 8, 2013

The 49ers starting offensive and defensive units enjoyed quality performances in San Francisco’s preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.

The 49ers starting offensive and defensive units enjoyed quality performances in San Francisco’s preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.

The second and third-team offense, however, turned the ball over four times to the visiting Broncos. The first of which was a walk-in fumble recovery for a touchdown by Broncos linebacker Shaun Phillips.

Denver would maintain its lead and finish the game with a 10-6 victory.

                                                        [PHOTOS - 49ERS VS. BRONCOS]

Fortunately for San Francisco’s starters, the night wasn’t as dismal to start.

Colin Kaepernick led the first-team offense on a 13-play scoring drive. Aldon Smith pressured Peyton Manning on a third-down pass attempt to force a Broncos punt.

In the 35th preseason meeting between the two clubs and 10th game currently left on Candlestick Park’s schedule, the 49ers used the opening preseason tilt to evaluate the depth of the roster and let the experienced veterans watch from the sideline.

The majority of starters on both sides of the ball played just one series. Only members of the offensive line and second-year running back LaMichael James were part of San Francisco’s second possession. Key veterans Frank Gore, Kyle Williams, Patrick Willis and Justin Smith were also not dressed for the game.

Behind the starting offensive line, the 49ers marched down the field on their opening possession. Kaepernick was a perfect 4-of-4 for 38 yards. He completed passes to Vernon Davis and Marlon Moore, plus a pair to new No. 1 wideout, Anquan Boldin.

The 49ers put together a 13-play drive, racking up 62 yards in the process, but could not convert a 3rd-and-15 from inside Broncos territory.

As a result, Phil Dawson connected on a 32-yard field goal to give San Francisco an early lead. Colt McCoy took over for Kaepernick on San Francisco’s second drive of the game.

The 49ers defense also fared well in its first preseason game. Peyton Manning led Denver on a no-huddle drive out to midfield, but was turned away when Smith, the third-year outside linebacker, collapsed the pocket and disrupted Manning’s throw to new slot receiver Wes Welker. Manning finished the game 2-of-4 for 13 yards.

Colt McCoy and Brock Osweiler took over at quarterback for their respective teams. 

The 49ers went on to turn the ball over four times. 

Rookie running back D.J. Harper fumbled his second carry of the game when he was hit by Broncos linebacker Nate Irving. The ball was scooped up immediately by Denver’s new pass-rusher, Phillips, and returned for a 9-yard touchdown.

Denver took a 7-3 lead and maintained it for the rest of the first half, despite forcing two more turnovers. 

A.J. Jenkins fumbled while running up the field after a first-down reception. McCoy was later picked off by Broncos safety Mike Adams while lofting a deep ball intended for Jenkins. McCoy left the game with a shoulder injury in the third quarter. He finished the game completing 3-of-7 passes for 41 yards.

Scott Tolzien saw action in the second quarter and later committed San Francisco’s fourth turnover of the game. Broncos cornerback Kayvon Webster intercepted the third-year quarterback early in the third quarter.

Despite the miscue, Tolzien rallied in the fourth quarter to lead a 13-play, 73-yard scoring drive capped by another Dawson field goal. The veteran missed a 44-yard attempt to end the first half, but converted a 38-yard field goal to make it a 7-6 game.

Tolzien completed 17-yard and 21-yard passes to rookie tight end Vance McDonald and rookie wideout Chuck Jacobs, respectively. Fourth-year running back Anthony Dixon had a productive drive, churning out several hard-earned yards to put the 49ers in field goal position.