Matt Maiocco

Hoyer, Shanahan earn praise from Broncos All-Pro DBs

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AP

Hoyer, Shanahan earn praise from Broncos All-Pro DBs

SANTA CLARA – The reviews of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Brian Hoyer from within the organization have all been positive this offseason.

That’s not a surprise, of course, considering the 49ers have yet to play a meaningful game and hope abounds during every NFL training camp.

But, on Thursday, Shanahan and Hoyer received unsolicited praise from two Denver Broncos All-Pro defensive backs who went up against the 49ers’ offense during two days of practices.

“Going against Kyle Shanahan, he’s a great offensive mind and a great offensive coach,” Broncos defensive back Chris Harris said. “So it was a great week. You never know, we might see a team that has this type of offense. But on the schedule -- I looked at the schedule -- we don’t and I’m kind of glad we don’t.”

Unlike the past two summers when the 49ers and Broncos held joint practices, it was difficult to proclaim a winner this week. The 49ers at least held their own on both sides of the ball after being clearly beaten the past two years.

For the Broncos, going against the 49ers’ offense gave them a better challenge than they experienced in the past. The teams meet Saturday night at Levi's Stadium in the second exhibition game for both teams.

“He (Shanahan) makes it work,” Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib said. “He makes you use all of your adjustments. He makes things gray, so you don’t know if you need to check or if you’re going to check. He moves you left and right. They’re great with their bootlegs. All in all, it’s a pretty great offense.

“It gives us a different look than we’ve been seeing. It’s a solid offense. Any time you can practice against a solid offense, no game plan, just go out there and play your technique, that’s always great work.”

Hoyer, 31, enters his 10th NFL season with his seventh different team. He has been anointed the starter for the first time in his career at this stage of the season. General manager John Lynch said has been pleasantly surprised since signing Hoyer to a two-year, $12 million contract. He can earn as much as $18.5 million if he reaches all of his incentives.

Hoyer's starting job has never been in doubt from the moment he signed with the 49ers on the first day of free agency.

“We’ve said from the beginning we want a franchise quarterback around here and a lot of people are making assumptions as to what Brian’s role is,” Lynch said. “Is he a bridge? Is he all those things? Our response to Brian and to everybody is he’s got the first crack of being that guy. And I love the way he’s embracing that opportunity each and every day, and really has been a tremendous leader for our group. I think, probably exceeded my expectations of how I thought he could play.”

That kind of public praise from within the organization is not uncommon. But Hoyer's play even opened eyes on the Denver side. Talib said he was impressed what what he saw from Hoyer and the 49ers’ passing game. The 49ers have ranked no better than 29th in yards passing over each of the past four seasons.

“He looks good. He runs the offense well,” Talib said. “Shanahan has a hell of an offense. Hoyer is doing a great job running it. They get the ball out fast. They move you left and right. It takes a polished quarterback to run an offense. He’s doing a great job.”

Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved

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AP

Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ passing game has ranked 29th or lower in each of the past four seasons.

If two practices against last year’s No. 1-ranked pass defense are any indication, the 49ers could be vastly improved under coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Brian Hoyer.

“I think our guys were expecting to do good,” Shanahan said on Thursday after a second joint practice against the Denver Broncos in two days. “There’s a lot of stuff we can clean up. A lot of stuff we can do better. But I think our guys were happy with how they competed and, hopefully, that can continue to carry over.”

Hoyer hit more higher-percentage passes on Thursday. He teamed up with rookie Victor Bolden on his deepest completion -- down the left sideline against first-team All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris. After completing better than 80 percent of his passes against the Broncos a day earlier, Hoyer was 12 of 19 passing on Thursday.

Pierre Garçon, who figures to be Hoyer’s top target, was not as active during Thursday’s practice. But he did find himself in the middle of the action with a tussle against Harris.

Hoyer’s red-zone pass intended for slot receiver Jeremy Kerley was tipped and intercepted by safety Justin Simmons. Away from the action, Aqib Talib blocked Garçon, who retaliated by tossing him to the ground.

“That’s part of the game,” Garçon said. ‘You always expect one scuffle in joint practices. But it ended and you move on. It was nothing personal at all.”

Hoyer was especially sharp during the practices to strengthen his grasp on the team’s staring job. Meanwhile, rookie C.J. Beathard had a solid showing on Thursday. He will enter Saturday’s game after Hoyer and could play through the rest of the first half and open the third quarter.

The 49ers exited the field after their two most-significant practices feeling optimistic about where things stand.

“We did good the first day,” Garçon said. “We could’ve done better the second day. But we’re still learning each other and getting better. We still have a lot to do to get ready for the regular season, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

QUICK SLANTS
--Linebacker Reuben Foster wore shoulder pads and took part in all but the contact drills due to what the team described as a “mild AC joint sprain” of his right shoulder. That did not prevent Foster from getting into the middle of a skirmish that appeared to involve Broncos tackle Menelik Watson and 49ers linebacker Eli Harold.

The 49ers expect Foster to play Saturday night, Shanahan said.

--Linebacker NaVorro Bowman was pulled from practice on Thursday after experiencing soreness in his shoulder. Shanahan said Bowman's shoulder soreness is similar to what Foster experienced.

--The Broncos’ offense, which struggled to complete passes on Wednesday, made a lot more plays down the field on Thursday with Paxton Lynch at quarterback.

--Tight end Vance McDonald made an outstanding catch of a Hoyer pass at the sideline against tight coverage from safety Will Parks.

--The 49ers’ practice Thursday brought an official end to the team’s training camp. They will transition to a regular-season type of schedule next week leading up to the team’s third exhibition game, which is scheduled for Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings.

“Training camp is over, and what that means is we’re not all staying in dorms together and we’re not having night walk-throughs,” Shanahan said.

Shoulder injury will keep Foster out of contact drills vs Broncos

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AP

Shoulder injury will keep Foster out of contact drills vs Broncos

SANTA CLARA – Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster will be held out of contact drills on Thursday in a joint practice with the Denver Broncos due to a shoulder injury, the 49ers announced.

A team official described Foster’s injury as a “mild AC joint sprain” and unrelated to the surgery he underwent in February on his right shoulder. The 49ers medical staff was seen working on his right shoulder Wednesday, according to multiple reports.

Afterward, 49ers general manager John Lynch said he spoke to Foster and he did not believe there was any significant issue.

Said Lynch, “I talked to him and like Reuben, big smile, said, ‘I’m straight.’ And, so he’s good. He’s straight.”

Foster, who was medically cleared to take part in full contract drills on the eve of training camp, has not missed a practice this summer. He also played 27 snaps in the 49ers’ exhibition opener last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Foster’s right shoulder was reportedly a topic of concern among NFL teams. Foster said he sustained the tear of the labrum in his right shoulder during Alabama’s national semifinal game against Washington. He played in the championship game against Clemson with the injury.

Considered a Top 10 draft pick, Foster was not chosen until the 49ers traded up from the second round, in a deal with the Seattle Seahawks, to select him with the No. 31 overall pick.