Top 5 takeaways from 49ers' 19-12 loss to Broncos
The 49ers’ meeting Saturday night against the Denver Broncos was very much like the two practices that preceded the third exhibition game for both teams. The sloppiness and difficulty in pass protection that the 49ers exhibited during the practices carried over to the game. Afterward, coach Jim Tomsula remarked his biggest disappointment was the team’s 13 penalties for 113 yards...
5) No answers in replacing Brooks
Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks is indefinitely excused after being charged last week for misdemeanor sexual battery stemming from an incident in December. Corey Lemonier and Eli Harold started on Saturday night. Lemonier recorded a sack of Peyton Manning. Overall, Lemonier and Harold made little impact while playing the first half against the Broncos’ starters. Aaron Lynch appears set as the starter on the other side, but the 49ers are likely to use a combination of Lemonier and Harold, and rely on defensive coordinator Eric Mangini’s scheming, to get production out of the other side.
4) Punt returns in the air
Reggie Bush was back returning punts for the first time since 2011, and it showed. He misjudged Britton Colquitt’s punt, then acted indecisively in allowing the ball to hit near the 15-yard line. The ball rolled to the 3-yard line. On the next play, Colin Kaepernick was sacked for a safety. Because the Broncos punted only three times, there was not a lot of work to go around. Jarryd Hayne again looked good. He handled one punt and made a strong cut to get upfield for a 12-yard return. Tomsula also wants to see Bruce Ellington and DeAndrew White, but Hayne is the one who needs all the experience he can get.
3) Acker makes strong case
Tramaine Brock will be the starter on one side, but the starting cornerback job on the other side remains in question. Shareece Wright, Keith Reaser, Dontae Johnson and Kenneth Acker have started games this summer, as the 49ers look for the right combination. Acker had a strong exhibition season a year ago as a rookie but went on injured reserve for the entire season with a stress fracture in his foot. Again, he is playing well in the preseason. He intercepted a Peyton Manning pass intended for Demaryius Thomas in the end zone, then broke up a quick slant for Cody Latimer at the goal line.
2) Bowman shines
Three-time first-team All-Pro inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman looks as if nothing ever happened. He looks sharp mentally and physically after missing all of last season with the left knee injury he sustained in the NFC Championship Game against Seattle in January 2014. On Saturday, Bowman had nine tackles and two sacks while playing all 42 snaps in the first half after discarding his knee brace. Not only does Bowman appear to be the best player on the 49ers . . . it’s not even close.
1) Shaky O-line
The left side of the offensive line looks just fine with tackle Joe Staley and guard Alex Boone. The rest of the line is, well, not fine. While the run game looked OK, the pass protection was substandard. All the competition has been at center and right guard, but the 49ers also have an issue at right tackle, where 33-year-old Erik Pears has been the unquestioned starter all through training camp. Marcus Martin started Saturday at center after starting the first two exhibition games at right guard. Joe Looney (center) and rookie Ian Silberman (right guard) also started in the exhibition season.