49ers-Broncos rewind: WR competition heats up

Three and Out: McCoy injury could open door for Tolzien

49ers-Broncos rewind: WR competition heats up
August 8, 2013, 11:30 pm
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Could have been better.
Jim Harbaugh on A.J. Jenkins' performance Thursday

What you need to know: Colin Kaepernick and Anquan Boldin wasted little time in carrying over the chemistry they demonstrated on the practice field during the first two weeks of 49ers training camp.

The competition at wide receiver to join Boldin in the starting lineup got a whole lot more interesting in the 49ers' 10-6 loss to the Denver Broncos in the exhibition opener for both teams on Thursday night at Candlestick Park.

Kyle Williams, who has been nursing a hamstring strain, did not suit up for the game. He figures to be in the mix for a starting job to open the season.

Several other players did nothing to hurt their chances:

--Marlon Moore, who earned the right to run out with the starting unit, did not hurt his chances when he made a remarkable diving catch of a 12-yard Kaepernick pass during the only series in which the starting quarterback participated.

--Chad Hall demonstrated his tenacity with two catches for 20 yards.

--Kassim Osgood not only caught three passes for 34 yards, but he also made an impact on special teams with two tackles. He is a three-time Pro Bowl special-teams performer, and that's his ticket to a roster spot.

--Veteran Austin Collie caught two passes for 20 yards on just his seventh day with the organization.

And that brings us to A.J. Jenkins, the 2012 first-round draft pick who did not catch a pass as a rookie. Jenkins hauled in an 11-yard gain in the second quarter. But he fumbled it away, resulting in one of the 49ers' four turnovers.

When asked about Jenkins' performance, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh answered, "Could have been better. We got work to do in areas. When you turn the ball over four times, offensively, you have work to do."

Jenkins was on the field for five plays in the 49ers' opening drive with Kaepernick at the controls. Kaepernick did not look Jenkins' way on the opening drive, but he did have some words for Jenkins, who coughed it up as he struggled for extra yards shortly after catching a Colt McCoy pass. When asked what he told Jenkins, Kaepernick said, "That you have to come out and make plays. He is someone that we need to be able to rely on."

Jenkins downplayed his miscue, saying everybody made mistakes in the first exhibition game.

"Hopefully, I've made some strides," Jenkins said. "It's the first preseason game. We have three more games left. It's a long year. No need to panic and get all discouraged. Just got to keep watching film."

Jenkins might be able to learn a lot from watching Boldin. The 11th-year veteran caught two passes from Kaepernick on the first drive, as the 49ers moved the ball 62 yards on 12 plays to open the game with a field goal.

"I think he did a good job," Boldin said of Kaepernick, who completed all four of his pass attempts for 38 yards. "He had command in the huddle. I think he found open receivers. When the plays broke down, he got outside the pocket and was able to make plays."

Lasting impact: Scott Tolzien was not spectacular, by any means. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 158 yards and one interception. But he came out of the game in much better shape than McCoy, who is scheduled for an MRI examination Friday morning after sustained what he described as a stinger to his right shoulder and neck area.

McCoy said he sustained the injury on a play in which he ran into the middle of the line. He remained in the game and tossed an interception several plays later.

"In hindsight I probably would have played that a little bit different," McCoy said. "First time in a uniform in a new place. Lots of excitement. I was actually feeling pretty good up until that point. Having fun. This is a sweet place. So that's a little frustrating."

McCoy, who had 21 career starts with the Cleveland Browns in three seasons, is in competition for the No. 2 job with Tolzien, who has never played in an NFL regular-season game.

Tolzien completed 15 of 26 passes for 158 yards and one interception. McCoy completed 3 of 7 for 41 yards and one interception. Rookie B.J. Daniels did not take any snaps at quarterback.

Play of the Game: Wide receiver Ricardo Lockette did not catch any passes, but he supplied a nice play on special teams when he leveled explosive return man Trindon Holliday immediately after Holliday fielded Colton Schmidt's 57-yard punt at the Denver 2-yard line.

Player of the Game: Linebacker Michael Wilhoite gets this honor because he played the entire game. He started in place of injured Patrick Willis (broken right hand) and he played both inside linebacker positions while racking up a game-high 10 tackles with a half-sack and a quarterback hurry.

"With Pat being hurt, I had to step up big and try to help the team as much as possible," Wilhoite said. "Pat, obviously, does it better than anybody in the world. So, now, I got to step up to the plate and try to match it."

Looking good: Tight end Vance McDonald had four catches for 66 yards. . . Anthony Dixon had a solid showing with 27 yards on seven rushing attempts. . . Cornerbacks Perrish Cox, Tramaine Brock and Nnamdi Asomugha fared well. . . Outside linebackers Aldon Smith and Dan Skuta got some pressure on the Broncos' quarterbacks. Skuta was credited with two sacks.

Needs Improvement: Rookie running back D.J. Harper had a rough debut as Shaun Phillips returned his second-quarter fumble 9 yards for the only touchdown of the game.

Injury Concerns: Rookie linebacker Nick Moody was carted to the locker room with a left knee injury. He underwent an examination that revealed no significant damage. Moody reported, via Twitter, "Sweet baby Jesus, my knee is fine." . . . Safety Bubba Ventrone left the game in the second half with a hamstring injury.

Brooks speaks: Linebacker Ahmad Brooks has declined comment daily through the 49ers' public relations department after an incident in June in which he was accused of striking teammate Lamar Divens in the head three times with a beer bottle. The Santa Clara District Attorney's office did not press charges.

"I have nothing to say about it right now," Brooks told The Associated Press. "It's a distraction to the team and I just want to move forward. It's in the past. What happened obviously happened. It's a distraction to the team, so I don't think it needs to be talked about. It's not about football, and that's how I want to approach it."

Quote of the day: "I feel really good right now. I like the players around me, the coaching, the system. Everything is pretty good right now, so I'm happy with that."
--Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who made two tackles while playing most of the first half.

Reid's debut: Rookie safety Eric Reid did not start, but he got a lot of playing time and looked comfortable as he competes to replace Dashon Goldson at free safety.

Craig Dahl started alongside Donte Whitner. C.J. Spillman was the first safety off the sideline. Reid saw considerable action and recorded six tackles, including a couple hard hits.

"I feel very comfortable. I've been studying the playbook and working with Donte a lot," Reid said. "I feel good."

Looking ahead:
The 49ers signed veteran cornerback Eric Wright to a one-year contract and placed him on the non-football injury/illness list. He will join the team after he tends to a personal matter, team general manager Trent Baalke.

"It's hard to say when that will be," Harbaugh said. "But I'm looking forward to Eric getting back to being the player that he things he can be and we think he can be. It'll be a great story for him to be able to do that and it will be great for us if he can get there."