Colin Kaepernick executed a near-perfect opening drive. He completed all four of his passes, escaped a broken play and ran for a first down. An Anthony Davis false-start created a third-and-long situation which they couldn't convert after a 12-yard pass play to Marlon Moore came up short of the marker.
"I thought (the first team was) good. Good communication up front. I thought execution was good. Happy with the first team offense," Jim Harbaugh said.
It was Kaepernick's only series of the game, but he continued to show his grasp of the offense just as he has during training camp.
One of the interesting early developments of the night was Moore being named the starter opposite Anquan Boldin. Kyle Williams did not suit up, but ran routes with Kaepernick earlier in the day in shorts at full speed. That allowed Moore - who's had a very strong showing in camp - to get the nod with the first team.
"(Camp) has been strong but it could always be better. There's always room for improvement. But coming out here and playing my first game as a 49er felt awesome," Moore said.
Kassim Osgood showed why he was named an All-Pro for his work on special teams. He had three special teams tackles while also making three receptions for 34 yards.
Earlier this week Harbaugh said there would be players who make the team solely for their contributions on special teams. But with Osgood also having a productive night on offense, he took a big step toward making the team even though the start of the regular season is a month away.
"Kassim did a great job on on the open field tackle on kickoff," Harbaugh said. "He had a tough catch on the boundary on offense. Played with a lot of energy. Looked good."
Eric Reid didn't start with the first team. That honor went to Craig Dahl. But Reid made the most of the snaps he did get it. His first hit in the NFL came with 11:38 in the second quarter when he pummeled Virgil Green on a play all safeties love to see unfold.
Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler threw the ball behind Green and he had to reach back to his left to haul it in, leaving himself vulnerable. Green took advantage and cracked him as he was falling out of bounds.
"I like contact," Reid said. "This is the NFL and you have to learn how to practice. That's something that they've told us is a huge part of the game. That's why it's exciting when you get to the game."
Nnamdi Asomugha also played well in his first showing in 49er red. The veteran corner played on the right side with the second unit while Tramaine Brock remained with the first team. Asomugha made three tackles and held up in coverage.
"I actually feel really good. I like the players around me, the coaching, the system, everything is pretty good right now, so I'm happy with that," Asomugha said.
Rookie outside linebacker Corey Lemonier also played very well, despite not registering a tackle. He pressured the quarterback twice, showed he could set the edge on a strong-side running play and showed good technique in coverage.
Vance McDonald had an up-and-down night. He made four catches on eight targets and had a team-high 66 yards receiving. He had two drops on plays he should have made, but also made two impressive catches for 21 and 19 yards. He could be a valuable piece on offense if he's able to develop more consistency in his hands, which has been apparent in training camp as well.
Two of three passes to A.J. Jenkins resulted in turnovers. The interception thrown by Colt McCoy late in the first half was not Jenkins' fault, but his fumble in the second quarter after making a nice 11-yard reception was.
"Could have been better," Harbaugh said of Jenkins. "When you turn the ball over four times offensively, you have work to do. That we did. It's pretty hard to win a game when you do that that.
Jenkins received more snaps than any other 49ers receiver. But his only reception ended up in the hands of the Broncos.
The most important play of the game came midway through the second quarter when reserve running back D.J. Harper fumbled on San Francisco's own 14 that Shaun Phillips scooped up and scampered into the end zone for the only touchdown of the night.
Colt McCoy sustained a stinger in his throwing shoulder when he was tackled in the backfield after the play was supposed to be a handoff to Anthony Dixon.
McCoy is slated for an MRI Friday and said it would be precautionary following the game. He completed just 3 of 7 passes for 41 and had was intercepted when he overthrew Jenkins on a deep pass late in the second quarter.