LIVE preseason game blog: 49ers vs. Broncos
8:07: The Broncos churn out a couple of first downs against the very end-of-the-bench San Francisco defensive reserves as the 49ers burn their three timeouts. It's kneel-down time now, and that's how this preseason opener ends, with quarterback Darrell Hackney taking a knee twice to count down the final seconds of Denver's 17-13 victory. 8:01: On fourth-and-goal, left tackle Damane Duckett is beaten around the corner, and Shaun Hill is hit as he tries to deliver the ball into the end zone, ending San Francisco's final shot at victory as the Broncos take over … 8:00: To resume play after the two-minute warning, Shaun Hill finds C.J. Brewer wide open on a short crossing pattern, and Brewer turns the corner for a 27-yard gain to the Denver 10-yard line. On third-and-goal from the 8, Hill delivers quickly to avoid an inside blitz and finds Brewer, but he is stopped at the 33-yard line with 1:25 remaining … 7:55: This could be the 49ers' final shot on offense, and Shaun Hill shows some good mobility to escape a collapsing pocket on third down to throw a 17-yard completion to C.J. Brewer. On the next play, Shaun Hill hits Jason Hill for a 12-yard reception, taking the 49ers into Denver territory and down the Broncos' 37 at the two-minute warning … 7:45: Some nice defense from rookie end Darius Sanders to sack Hackney for a loss and linebacker Colby Bockwoldt to blow through the line and stop Cecil Sapp for no gain on second down, forcing a third-and-11. But those plays are negated when corner Markus Curry is flagged for a very questionable interference penalty on third down, keeping Denver's drive alive with four minutes remaining to play … 7:39: The 49ers go to rookie Jason Hill again on third down on their next offensive drive, but he can't make it to the sticks and is stopped for a one-yard gain on third-and-2 as the 49ers are forced to punt againi midway through the fourth quarter ... 7:26: Jason Hill makes a nice curl-and-go move to get open down the right sideline on a third-down play, but he tries to one-hand Shaun Hill's pass and can't pull it in as he's walloped by safety Quentin Harris, ending another San Francisco drive … 7:23: Parys Haralson still looks like a defensive end playing linebacker, and he's going to have to do better to earn a spot in the team's 3-4 scheme … 7:19: Ashley Lelie gets in the act, getting open for a 20-yard reception to take the ball to the Denver 4. But the drive stalls as Shaun Hill misses a wide-open Zac Herold in the right flat, sails the ball out of the end zone on second down, then has his pass tipped at the line of scrimmage on third down and intercepted in the end zone as the 49ers come away with zero points after a 56-yard drive … 7:14: Brandon Williams is getting a lot of touches, and he's making them count. He has had a few nice turns already tonight, and now he's in the game at receiver snagging everything that comes his way. Williams shows some nice moves in the open field on a 17-yard reception on a third-and-4 play to take the 49ers into Denver territory, then shakes loose in the flat for a three-yard reception on fourth-and-1 that keeps the drive moving … 6:57: One of the best things about third-stringer Hill is his wheels. Hill scrambles for 19 yards on third-and-6 to keep the opening drive of the second half moving, and the 49ers eventually drive to the Denver 27. But that's where a promising drive ends when halfback Arkee Whitlock stumbles in the backfield while taking a handoff and loses two yards on a fourth-and-1 play … 6:50: The halftime stats show good production for both Thomas Clayton and Michael Robinson. Clayton has 29 yards on six carries, a 4.8 average, while Robinson gained 25 yards on his six carries (4.2). Despite his drive-killing interception, Trent Dilfer was 7 of 10 passing for 52 yards … 6:38: Justice is served after the Goldson penalty, however, as the sure-footed Jason Elam pushed a 44-yard field-goal attempt wide right on the final play of the first half, leaving it a one-point game at 14-13 at the intermission. Not that the score is really relevant at this time of year, of course … 6:34: A fine-looking play by rookie safety Dashon Goldson, who plays a great center field on a deep pass intended for receiver Domenik Hixon. Goldson swoops in as the ball arrives and takes it away from Hixon, then turns upfield for a 38-yard return. Goldson somehow is flagged for pass interference, but replays show that is bad call. Goldson collided with Hixon as the ball arrived, but he was the one going for the ball while Hixon simply was there waiting for it. The 27-yard penalty gives Denver a first down at the San Francisco 34 … 6:31: But the drive that could have put the 49ers ahead at halftime stalls when Dilfer telegraphs a pass over the middle that is intercepted by Denver safety Hamza Abudullah. Either Dilfer forgot to read the safety or tight end Delanie Walker ran the wrong route, failing to cut it short inside … 6:29: Another nice play by Bryan Gilmore, who makes a diving catch along the sideline to give the 49ers a first down at the two-minute warning and keep a drive moving in Denver territory. The play original was ruled an incompletion, but it was clearly a catch, as a replay review determined shortly thereafter … 6:23: It's Robinson and Clayton doing most of the work at running back now with Hicks sitting down for the rest of the evening after picking up 30 yards on his three carries. These youngsters don't look too bad. Clayton definitely is helping himself, and Robinson certainly isn't hurting himself. Both are showing some power between the tackles and elusiveness through holes … 6:12: Some nice play by some young defenders to stop a Denver drive. On third-and-3 from the Denver 24, Jay Moore strings out a run to his side and comes up to meet halfback Mike Bell, who is finished off Marcus Hudson and Sammy Joseph a yard short of the first down … 6:06: A Taylor Jacobs sighting, and that's appropriate, because he has been one of the stars of San Francisco's training camp so far. Jacobs pulls in an 11-yard reception on the sideline from Dilfer on third-and-7 keeping alive a drive that eventually ends in a 28-yard field goal by Joe Nedney that makes it 14-13 midway through the second quarter … 6:02: It looks like we're seeing the good Clayton so far. The sixth-round draft pick makes some nice runs, exploding through the hole instead of displaying some of the tentative tendencies he sometimes shows in training camp. And this time, he does his spinning when he's downfield already through the hole … 5:56: Great play by rookie cornerback Tarell Brown. The fifth-round draft pick steps in front of Denver receiver Brian Clark and makes a nifty, tiptoe interception in front of the Broncos' bench. This kid's a player and already has made the team, and he just showed everybody why … 5:47: Somewhere along the San Francisco sideline, Al Everest is looking for cover. The team's new special teams coordinator, Everest's kickoff coverage team allows a 58-yard return by Quincy Morgan on the ensuing kickoff. That sets up the Broncos at the San Francisco 38, and they need just six plays to punch it in for another touchdown, which comes on fullback Troy Fleming's six-yard pass from Ramsey. San Francisco's second defense is in the game now, and rookie linebacker Jay Moore blows the coverage in the flat on the scoring play. Moore also got held up at the line a few plays earlier, allowing Mike Bell to turn the corner for a 13-yard gain … 5:40: Final line for Alex Smith on his two offensive series: 4 for 5 passing for 58 yards and two scoring drives … 5:38: Robinson puts his nose down and dives into the end zone from the 1 to complete an efficient six-play, 55-yard touchdown drive. The Niners need big improvement this year on their goal-line offense, and that looked like a pretty good start. The play was set up by a great sliding catch by Arnaz Battle on a deep crossing pattern, a 26-yard gain that takes the ball to the 1. Once again, Smith is perfect with a timing pass that had some heat on it. The Niners go in front 10-7 with two minutes left in the first quarter … 5:35: Maurice Hicks again through a huge hole on the right side, and this time he explodes for a 20-yard gain. That's why Kwame Harris and Justin Smiley are still starting right now instead of up-and-comers David Baas and Joe Staley. The Niners are in business inside the Denver 30 … 5:31: Shawntae Spencer is starting at right cornerback in place of Walt Harris, and he's already getting abused . Javon Walker beats him for a 24-yard gain on Denver's first drive, then another long sideline reception the next time the Broncos have the ball. Fortunately, that play is negated as Marques Douglas puts the heat on Jay Cutler as tackle Erik Spears gets called for holding … 5:26: Smith gets sacked once and pressured from the backside on third down as the drive stalls. The 49ers settle for a 37-yard Nedney field goal to make it 7-3 midway through the first quarter … 5:22: Something you gotta love, and something you'll be seeing a lot of this season: On San Francisco's first pass, Smith drops back and fires and 18-yard completion to Darrell Jackson over the middle. Champ Bailey is all over Jackson, but the pass is on the money, and Jackson makes the sure grab. It only takes that play to show you why the 49ers acquired Jackson – and why they need a receiver like him so badly … 5:20: Not surprisingly, the 49ers run to the left on their first play, where Larry Allen and Jonas Jennings blast a big hole in the Denver line. Hicks scoots through it and the drives for an 8-yard gain after meeting defenders. Maybe he's the guy to be Frank Gore's top backup. Then again, on the next play, Robinson looks good weaving his way through the right side for a six-yard gain … 5:18: Gilmore takes the ensuing kickoff for the 49ers, slips a tackle and then shows some real acceleration through a crevice to break off a 31-yard return. Those are the kind of things Gilmore is going to have to do make this team this year, because he is veteran feeling the squeeze at receiver … 5:15: Aided by 16-yard scramble to the San Francisco 1-yard line by Cutler, who eludes the grasp of Douglas in the backfield, the Broncos cap off an eight-play 67-yard touchdown drive on Travis Henry's plunge from the 1. Henry was stuffed at the 1 the play before, but otherwise that drive looked just way too easy for Denver … 5:12: Brandon Moore misses tackles on Henry on consecutive plays as the Broncos march downfield. You might not see that happen again all year from San Francisco's 2006 leader in tackles … 5:10: Henry gouges the middle of the 49ers defense for an 11-yard gain on the first play of the game. The new 3-4 scheme didn't look too ready on that one … 5:06: Denver wins the pre-game coin toss. We'll see that revamped San Francisco defense first … 5:05: And first, a moment of silence. Bill Walsh's face graces the giant video scoreboard, and Monster Park goes completely quiet – quieter than it has ever been before with fans inside it. Heads are bowed respectfully on each sideline and throughout the stadium in memory of The Genius, and then that silence is met by a huge roar that also was the man who made the 49ers what they are today …
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