49ers camp report: Defense continues practice-field dominance vs. Broncos

49ers camp report: Defense continues practice-field dominance vs. Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The 49ers’ defense followed up a dominating day on the practice field back in Santa Clara with a clear victory in a joint workout Friday against the Denver Broncos.

The 49ers did not have as many interceptions during team drills – unlike their five-pick day against Jimmy Garoppolo two days earlier – but the defense repeatedly made it difficult for quarterback Joe Flacco and the Broncos' offense.

Free safety Tarvarius Moore recorded an interception, and several other 49ers broke up passes, including Richard Sherman. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner had an impressive day as a pass-rusher.

“We got our hands on a few, we should’ve caught a few, but I think the defense is taking a step forward this year,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said.

Sherman was quick to point out that the defense deserved credit for Garoppolo’s bad day on the practice field earlier this week. After all, Garoppolo had thrown fewer interceptions than any of the other 49ers quarterbacks despite attempting at least two times more passes.

“I think it was less about Jimmy and having a bad day and more about us executing as a team,” said Sherman, adding he believes the defense is light years ahead of where it was a year ago.

Offensive play of the Day

Marquise Goodwin had a good day with four receptions during 11-on-11 drills, including a catch from Garoppolo on a deep post pattern to split the safeties in the Broncos defense.

Defensive plays of the Day

Moore recorded his third interception of the past two practices when he intercepted a Flacco pass intended for Emmanuel Sanders deep over the middle.

Injury report

Running back Matt Breida was shaken up during a blitz pickup drill and did not return to practice to take part in any of the 11-on-11 drills. Breida appeared to sustain an upper-body injury, possibly a shoulder stinger.

Offensive lineman Mike Person was seen following practice on crutches and in a walking boot. He participated in practice, and there was no immediate word from the 49ers how the injury occurred or its severity.

The 49ers sat out the following players due to injuries: Running back Raheem Mostert (concussion), tight ends George Kittle (calf) and Levine Toilolo (shoulder), guard Joshua Garnett (finger), wide receiver Trent Taylor (foot), defensive linemen Nick Bosa (ankle), Dee Ford (knee), Ronald Blair (groin), Jullian Taylor (back), D.J. Jones (knee), linebacker Elijah Lee (thumb), cornerbacks Jason Verrett (ankle) and K’Waun Williams (knee) and free safety Jimmie Ward (collarbone).

Comings and goings

The 49ers signed three-year veteran cornerback Quinten Rollins, who wore No. 30 during practice and waived Greg Mabin, the team announced Friday.

Mabin sustained a calf injury in practice Wednesday, and could be a candidtate for injured reserve.

Rollins entered the NFL in 2015 as a second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in 33 games in three seasons and recorded 91 tackles, 16 passes defensed and three interceptions.

[RELATED: Projecting 49ers roster ahead of Week 2 of preseason]

This ‘n’ That

-- Garoppolo threw an interception on a pass intended for Goodwin. Edge rusher Von Miller got pressure on Garoppolo, who appeared as if he could not step into his throw. Garoppolo left his pass short. Safety Justin Simmons recorded the interception.

-- Running back Jeff Wilson took advantage of the extended work he got with Breida sidelined to show he is back to full strength after missing a couple of weeks with a calf strain ...

-- Dante Pettis saw a big-play opportunity slip away when he had a step on Broncos cornerback Linden Stephens but he could not haul in C.J. Beathard’s pass on a deep post pattern despite getting both hands on it ...

-- Denver running back Phillip Lindsay did not have much room to run against the 49ers’ front seven. That even carried over to the passing game, where Arik Armstead sniffed out a screen and would have thrown Lindsay for a loss ...

Next up

The 49ers and Broncos will return to practice Saturday morning. The teams will meet Monday night in a preseason game.

Why Justin Skule is thankful for 49ers O-line before first NFL start

Why Justin Skule is thankful for 49ers O-line before first NFL start

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers left tackle Justin Skule, who will take over for injured six-time Pro Bowler Joe Staley at the position in Sunday’s home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, is just a rookie. But Skule already has a huge supporting cast to help him prepare. 

The 22-year-old is an unknown to most in the Niners fanbase. The rookie has quietly kept his head down since he was selected in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the 49ers in April. Staley, who has vowed to help Skule adjust to his new responsibilities, has already made an impact on his replacement. 

“He’s been awesome since I’ve been here just taking me under his wing and giving me little tricks of the trade,” Skule said Wednesday of the veteran left tackle, who is out six to eight weeks after breaking his fibula in Week 2. “He’s done a phenomenal job just these past couple days giving me pointers just showing me how he goes through his process and everything like that. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor.” 

Staley isn’t the only offensive lineman to offer Skule helpful advice. The rookie had to fill in for Staley in the 49ers' 41-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and Skule said Mike Person imparted some wisdom when the two shared the field at Paul Brown Stadium. 

“He’s like, ‘Take a deep breath it’s still just football,'" Skule recalled. "So, I think that’s something that I’m really going to focus on this week. It’s still the game of football. Just take a deep breath, and don’t let anything get too big for myself.” 

Skule apparently has taken that advice to heart during his first week of practice as the team's starter.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t notice the nerves that were brewing in his newly appointed left tackle. Garoppolo that Skule appeared unfazed when he first filled in for Staley and has been the same ever since. 

“He’s been very consistent,” Garoppolo said. “Smart guy, came into the huddle during the game, didn’t blink or anything. Just one of those guys, he does the right thing and he’s in the right spot. He’s been the same guy every day, and you’ve got to appreciate that.”

[RELATED: Chris Simms explains why unbeaten 49ers might be for real]

Thus far, Skule has taken it all in stride. Even with more than 20 media members surrounding him in front of his locker for the first time in his pro career, Skule seemed calm and deliberate. The rookie didn’t hesitate when answering any questions, and his replies seemed genuine. 

Still, Skule knows that even though he feels calm now, the nerves undoubtedly will come before his first start Sunday at Levi's Stadium. 

“No matter who you are replacing, you’re going to go in with some nerves,” Skule said. “Everyone has that competitive edge where you’re going to be nervous when you’re going in. The older guys and everyone in the huddle have just done a great job taking me under their wing and just making sure I’m good and relaxed and ready to go.” 

Chris Simms encouraged by 49ers' start, 'pumped' about offense, defense

Chris Simms encouraged by 49ers' start, 'pumped' about offense, defense

After two weeks, the 49ers are one of nine undefeated teams in the NFL. They've scored the most points in the NFC, and possess the second-best point differential in the league behind only the New England Patriots.

"I'm really encouraged by what I see from the San Francisco 49ers football team," NBC Sports' Chris Simms told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday.

In heaping his praise, Simms broke down the 49ers' roster, unit by unit.

"The defense is legit, and of course, we saw it improved last year," Simms remarked. "We really did. It's well-coached, and now it has more weapons than since the years the 49ers were going to the Super Bowl against the Ravens and all that.

"Where it starts is the defensive line. The defensive line is special, and it's versatile. It can be a small, fast group that can create havoc. If they want to get big and have to stop a Dallas Cowboys-like running game, they're going to be capable of doing that. 

"Linebackers are extremely athletic with Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner. The secondary -- I'm encouraged from what I've seen from Ahkello Witherspoon. We know Richard Sherman is good. The safety play has been good. So the defense is really awesome."

Not to be discounted, Simms turned his attention to San Francisco's offense, coming off a 41-point explosion against the Bengals.

"Offensively, how could I not be pumped? That offensive performance last week against Cincinnati was mind-blowing. I mean, Kyle Shanahan cracked the code. He, like, broke into the Matrix on that one. That was a true show as far as what they did to the Bengals offensively. Huge holes in the run game, wide-open people in the pass game."

Moving forward, Simms believes Shanahan's football mind will help the 49ers withstand the loss of Joe Staley to a broken fibula, starting in Week 3 against the Steelers.

"It's not going to be easy to overcome, to lose a player like Joe Staley. I mean, he's a franchise left tackle. A Hall of Fame left tackle ... But either way, I still think the 49ers will be fine without him.

"As good? No, of course not -- you never replace Joe Staley completely. But there's a phenomenal offensive line in San Francisco. Kyle Shanahan, his run schemes, the play-action, the things he does that keep defenses off-balance is as good as anybody in the sport. So, he'll find ways to protect Justin Skule ... I was very encouraged with the way he looked after I saw Joe Staley go down.

"But he'll hold his own, and then when Shanahan feels like, 'Oh, okay, I don't necessarily like this matchup for my left tackle,' he'll find ways to help him out a little bit, too."

[RELATED: Jimmy G, Shanahan excited to play in front of 49ers crowd]

While Simms is encouraged by the 49ers' strong start to the season, there's still one issue holding him back from being all the way in on San Francisco.

"If I have one question about the 49ers right now -- I'm not totally in the trust tree with Jimmy Garoppolo. I don't think he's playing to his capabilities yet

"But the encouraging thing is, he's getting better and you're 2-0. So when that all meshes together, I say watch out for the San Francisco 49ers."

Time to take the red pill. The 49ers just might be for real.