Dixon: 'I've always felt I'm a good ball carrier when I get the chance'
Both run plays went away from Lawrence Okoye, and both were just 1-yard gains for the Broncos. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Perrish Cox broke up a pass, sniffed another for a 3-yard loss, and showed something in the return game. (AP)
Nnamdi Asomugha demonstrated good change of direction to come up and stick Gerell Robinson for a 5-yard gain on a third-and-12 play. (AP)
Lawrence Okoye is officially a football player.
The British Olympian-turned-NFL hopeful saw action Thursday in the final six snaps, including the final two kneeldowns at the end of the 49ers' 10-6 loss to the Denver Broncos at Candlestick Park.
He appeared to have difficulty finding the ball upon lining up at right defensive end in the 49ers' 3-4 defense on his first snap. He was pushed back about 5 yards on a run play on the next snap. Both run plays went away from Okoye, and both were just 1-yard gains for the Broncos.
On a third-down pass play, Okoye tried to close quickly on Denver quarterback Zac Dysert, who was sacked by Dan Skuta. Okoye was the first person on the scene to offer congratulations to his teammate.
Here are some other observations after re-watching last night's game:
--Rookie B.J. Daniels lined up once at running back, and took no snaps at quarterback. Why? Well, it very well might be that Scott Tolzien will win the No. 2 job over Colt McCoy, and the 49ers feel as if they need to get Tolzien every possible rep.
It also might be that the 49ers don't see a place for Daniels on the 53-man roster, but they desperately want him on the practice squad. Therefore, they might not want to show the rest of the league what they have.
--The play of the secondary was very strong. The 49ers allowed just 103 yards of net passing. Third cornerback Tramaine Brock had good coverage throughout. The Broncos caught a couple passes for short gains on him, and he had solid coverage against Demaryius Thomas on a deep route.
Perrish Cox played very well. He broke up a pass and sniffed another pass for a 3-yard loss. He also showed something in the return game with a 33-yard kickoff return and a 15-yard punt return.
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Nnamdi Asomugha demonstrated good change of direction to come up and stick Gerell Robinson for a 5-yard gain on a third-and-12 play.
--All the safeties were solid, especially Eric Reid and C.J. Spillman.
--Nose tackle Ian Williams carried over his strong first two weeks of training camp into the exhibition opener. He was very active in the run game and as a pass-rusher. He pushed the pocket against guard Phillip Blake on the play in which Dan Skuta beat tackle Paul Cornick for his first of two sacks.
--Last year, the 49ers kept three outside linebackers on their 53-man roster. This season, I don't see why they would not keep five. Skuta, Parys Haralson and Corey Lemonier must remain on this team to serve as backups to Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith, as well as fill roles on special teams.
--Center Daniel Kilgore had a very good first series of the game, and really could give incumbent Jonathan Goodwin a serious challenge for the starting job. Kilgore was especially good at getting to the second level and making athletic blocks.
--Undrafted rookie running back D.J. Harper was on the depth chart ahead of Jewel Hampton, who did not play any offense. This could be a result of Harper earning his way through his strong play in blitz pickup. The 49ers are not going to risk putting a running back on the field if they believe he could miss a block and get the quarterback injured. It is not known if Hampton is injured.
--Harper's fumble resulted in the only touchdown for either team. Yes, Harper must hold onto the ball, but right tackle Patrick Omameh missed the block. Omameh was also beaten later in the game when Denver linebacker Lerentee McCray sacked Scott Tolzien.
--Anthony Dixon had a 33-yard run nullified by a Joe Looney holding penalty. I thoughT the penalty was questionable. Dixon rushed for 27 yards, but he also missed a blitz pickup on a pass play in which Colt McCoy was pressured and threw high to Kassim Osgood.
--Hats off to camp leg Colton Schmidt whose 57-yard punt gave Ricardo Lockette the opportunity to flatten Trindon Holliday at the 2-yard line. Schmidt also somehow avoided making a horse-collar tackle of Holliday to prevent a long, long return on a kickoff.
--Finally, let's talk wide receivers . . .
Anquan Boldin (shown, right) is the starter. No question. There's also got to be a place on the team for Mario Manningham when his rehab is over. Kyle Williams should be on the team. And, likely, the same can be said for rookie Quinton Patton, who has been unable to catch passes during training camp with an injury to his left index finger. OK, so that's four wide receivers right there.
Based on what they've shown in training camp and/or the first exhibition game, Marlon Moore, Chad Hall, Austin Collie and Kassim Osgood are in the next group. (In Osgood's case, his contributions on special teams could earn him a roster spot in itself.)
That leaves four other wide receivers -- Lavelle Hawkins, Lockette, A.J. Jenkins and Chuck Jacobs -- in the same general group. None has done enough on the field to win a roster spot. The good news for those four, as Jenkins pointed out afterward, there are still three preseason games remaining to change perceptions.