SANTA CLARA – It was clear during the past two summers that the Denver Broncos’ defense was far ahead of the 49ers’ offense. That should not come as a big surprise.
On Wednesday, it was a much closer match when the units practiced against each other on the 49ers' practice field.
The Broncos’ pass rush still gave some problems to the 49ers’ offensive line, but the 49ers connected on a lot more plays than it has in the past in their head-to-head meetings.
The biggest issue with the 49ers continues to be the play at the guard positions. The 49ers are set at offensive tackle with Joe Staley and Trent Brown. Daniel Kilgore appears settled in at center. But the 49ers might not be completely sold on Zane Beadles and Brandon Fusco at the guard positions.
However, starting quarterback Brian Hoyer said he believes the entire unit is doing a good job.
“I think those guys are doing a great job,” Hoyer said. “I think the scheme helps out those guys, too. For me, to evaluate the guard, you evaluate the whole offensive line because they work as a unit. It’s five guys working as one. Throughout this training camp, I think they’ve all done a great job.”
Still, it’s no coincidence that the best the 49ers’ offense looked on Wednesday was during a 7-on-7 passing drill that does not include offensive linemen.
Matt Barkley hit consecutive touchdown passes of 15, 10 and 5 yards with Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor and Bourne, again, on the receiving ends. Then, Hoyer hit Tim Hightower and Pierre Garçon on touchdowns, giving the 49ers five touchdowns during a six-play stretch.
--Hoyer was especially sharp, completing better than 80 percent of his pass attempts during the 11-on-11 periods. Hoyer had five completions to Marquise Goodwin and four more to Garçon.
Goodwin, who has never caught more than 29 passes in a season, has put himself in position to have a breakout season as a starter.
“I really enjoy working with him,” Hoyer said. “You talk about a hard-worker. I was just out there with my family for 30 minutes and he’s still catching balls on the (machine), running up the hill. When you see guys who are really talented and willing to work that hard, they obviously have a chance to be something special.”
--Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard and receiver DeAndre Smelter teamed up for a picturesque 10-yard touchdown during a 7-on-7 drill with a well-thrown pass and leaping catch in the back left corner of the end zone.