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49er-heavy NFC squad falls 59-41 in Pro Bowl shootout

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49er-heavy NFC squad falls 59-41 in Pro Bowl shootout

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HONOLULU (AP) While everyone was playing at half-speed and ready to extend their Hawaiian vacation, Brandon Marshall played as if it was his last game.The Miami Dolphins wide receiver caught six passes for 176 yards and a Pro Bowl-record four touchdowns, and the AFC used a second-half surge to beat the NFC 59-41 on Sunday."You never know when you're going to be back," Marshall said, "and I wanted to go all out today because it could be my last Pro Bowl."

Marshall had a touchdown catch in each quarter, including an early 74-yarder and a 3-yarder in the fourth, in a game filled with highlight-reel grabs.He was selected the game's MVP, and his name now will join the likes of Walter Payton and Jerry Rice on the MVP banners at Aloha Stadium."You know what? I wanted it," he said. "It's a Pro Bowl. Some guys are playing 100 (percent), some guys are playing 90, some guys aren't playing at all, but it means a lot to be up in the rafters with some of these guys."The 59 points by the AFC set a Pro Bowl mark, and the 100 points scored by the teams combined was the second highest, a touchdown shy of the 107 scored in 2004.But it was clear from the start it was Marshall's day. He hauled in a deflected, go-ahead 47-yard TD pass from Andy Dalton, while on his back, to give the AFC a 38-35 lead late in the third quarter. It was Marshall's third TD catch of the game, tying Jimmy Smith's Pro Bowl record set in 2004."It was the most unathletic highlight I ever had," he said. "Andy put it up there for me to make a play. I saw the ball, got nervous, fell, saw the ball, kicked it up and it just fell in my hands."Marshall, making his third Pro Bowl appearance, then nabbed a 3-yard TD pass from Dalton that gave the AFC a 52-35 lead with 8:25 left and put the game away."People were saying throw to him. I saw the matchup I had and he's a great receiver, so I knew he could make the play," Dalton said.Hawaii has been kind to Marshall, who also won MVP honors at Aloha Stadium in his final game at Central Florida in the 2005 Hawaii Bowl, where he caught 11 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns.Marshall noted he had six TDs this season, but four this game."It says a lot when you're playing with these type of quarterbacks," Marshall said. "They just put it in the right place and I just made the play. Hats off to those guys throwing me the ball."The game featured 36 first-timers, including rookie quarterbacks Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals, who replaced Super Bowl quarterbacks Eli Manning and Tom Brady. Their selection made this Pro Bowl the first to feature two rookie signal callers.Dalton and Newton played the entire second half.While Dalton looked composed, Newton played horribly - struggling to move the ball, stay in the pocket and find his targets, which drew some boos from the sun-splashed, sellout crowd of 48,423."No excuses," Newton said. "When you hang the ball up there, against these kind of players, that's what you get," Newton said. "It's the good and the bad of playing in a Pro Bowl. I learned a lot."Newton finished 9 of 27 for 186 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Dalton, meanwhile, was 7 of 9 for 99 yards and two TDs.On his first series, Newton overthrew a wide-open Tony Gonzalez over the middle, with the ball sailing into Eric Weddle's hands. The San Diego Chargers safety popped up to his feet and returned it 63 yards to the NFC 23, leading to a 37-yard FG by Sebastian Janikowski, which gave the AFC its first lead of the game at 31-28.Newton recovered on the next series, airing out a 55-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Panthers teammate Steve Smith, making it 34-31. But he was intercepted again on the next series.Weddle also intercepted another pass by Newton late in the game. After picking off the deep pass, he pitched it to teammate Derrick Johnson, who rumbled 60 yards for the AFC's final score."None of us want to go out and lose, so we picked it up and went out and made some plays," Weddle said. "Got the W,' that's the main thing."With the Pro Bowlers unable to get out of third gear - particularly on the offensive and defensive lines - and hitting each other as though they were having a pillow fight, the Pro Bowl featured some good, bad and real ugly - sometimes on the same play. For example, Aaron Rodgers caught a pass from himself. His throw was deflected at the line and he leaped to catch the ball and backpedaled for a 15-yard loss.Rodgers was 13 of 17 for 141 yards and two TDs, giving him a quarterback rating of 139.6, higher than his NFL record 122.5 rating during the season. But he was watching late in the game as Newton struggled.Rodgers said it's easier to play in the first quarter when the game isn't as intense."It's tough to be the last guy in, when it's the fourth quarter and money becomes an issue," he said. "Guys are playing a little bit harder. They come at you."The NFC had three players with 100-yard yard receiving: Gonzalez (seven for 114), Larry Fitzgerald (6 for 111) and Smith (5 for 118).The AFC and NFC traded score after score, and turnover after turnover in the first half.Rodgers and Fitzgerald connected for a pair of scores on back-to-back plays to put the NFC up 14-0 early in the game.After stopping the AFC on fourth down at midfield, Rodgers drove the NFC down the field and threw a 10-yard TD toss to Fitzgerald. Six seconds later, Rodgers aired a 44-yard rainbow in the end zone to Fitzgerald for another score after the NFC got the ball back with a surprise onside kick.The reception was Fitzgerald's sixth career TD catch in the Pro Bowl, tying Gonzalez's record. He would break the record with the game's last touchdown, on a 36-yard pass from Newton.The AFC came right back and tied it up on two deep TD passes on the right side by Ben Roethlisberger. He threw a 34-yarder to rookie A.J. Green, and then connected with Marshall on a 74-yarder.But Drew Brees and the NFC kept the scoring going. Just like in the regular season, Brees and Saints teammate Jimmy Graham hooked up to give the NFC a 21-14 lead in the second quarter. On fourth-and-goal, Brees zipped a pass to Graham for a 6-yard score and would later find Greg Jennings for an 11-yard TD. Brees finished 10 of 14 for 146 yards and two touchdowns.Antonio Gates pulled in a 27-yard TD from Chargers teammate Rivers as time expired in the half to tie it at 28.Each AFC player earned a record 50,000 for the win, while the NFC players received 25,000.

Potential big play slips from Hoyer's grasp during preseason loss to Broncos

Potential big play slips from Hoyer's grasp during preseason loss to Broncos

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Brian Hoyer threw the ball well enough to impress the Denver Broncos’ defensive backs during the 49ers’ two joint practices.

While he hit most of his passes on Saturday night, it was one that slipped away that summarized the 49ers’ 33-14 loss to the Broncos in the second exhibition game for both teams.

Hoyer had plenty of time to throw and saw a potential big play unfolding as he started to throw to wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. But the ball popped out of Hoyer’s right hand as he began to throw.

“I was getting ready to rip it to Kerley,” Hoyer said. “He had a double-move route, and I thought he was going to win. I went to throw it. And I was going to throw it hard, and literally, I think my arm even went forward and I was looking around, ‘What happened to the ball?' "

The ball ended up loose on the ground, where Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris recovered.

“My quarterbacks coach asked me, ‘When’s the last time that happened to you?’ Hoyer said. “Maybe a few years ago in practice, that happened one time. I never had that happen in a game. It’s the worst feeling. You go to throw the ball and you’re looking, and all of a sudden, you look around and you have no idea where it is.”

Hoyer and the 49ers passing game was sharp during two practice sessions with the Broncos during the week, prompting All-Pro defensive backs Aqib Talib and Chris Harris to praise the Hoyer, as well as coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.

Hoyer completed 8 of 11 pass attempts for 89 yards under the lights of Levi's Stadium. He threw an interception when 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin juggled the ball and Denver defensive back Chris Lewis-Harris wrestled the ball away from him as they tumbled to the ground.

“There weren’t any reads on his 11 attempts that I was upset with,” Shanahan said of Hoyer.

“(On) his pick, Marquise has to catch that ball. He threw it to him. That keeps the drive alive. He just didn’t catch it clean and the DB made a good play. I wish Brian could’ve played longer to get a chance to get into some sort of rhythm.”

In the game, the 49ers committed 11 penalties for 86 yards and turned the ball over five times. Denver scored 27 points off those turnovers.

“I don’t think any of us should be pleased right now,” Hoyer said. “When you put the defense in that situation, regardless of whether it’s a regular-season game or a preseason game, you should feel displeased with the performance.”

Instant Analysis: Turnovers cost 49ers in preseason loss to Broncos

Instant Analysis: Turnovers cost 49ers in preseason loss to Broncos

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SANTA CLARA – The 49ers don’t have to worry about peaking too soon, that’s for sure.

The 49ers first-team offense was plagued by turnovers and penalties against the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium in the second exhibition game for both teams. And things did not get much better when the backups entered the action.

After two days during which the 49ers more than held their own against Denver in joint practices, there was no debate about which team was better when it was time for a game.

The 49ers put together an all-around sloppy performance -- low-lighted by 11 penalties and five turnovers -- in a 33-14 loss to the Broncos on Saturday night.

While the starters were in the game, the 49ers were outscored 10-0. The 49ers committed six penalties for 53 yards and committed four turnovers in the first half, as the 49ers fell behind 20-0 through two quarters.

“I thought the D did a solid job,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during his halftime interview on KPIX. “We put them in a bad situation four times, so I was happy that they just held it to what it was.”

Jaquiski Tartt was responsible for one of the giveaways when it was ruled he inadvertently touched the ball on a punt in the first quarter. The Broncos recovered the muffed punt to retain possession.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer lost a fumble when the ball slipped out of his hand as he was throwing. Hoyer was also tagged with an interception. Denver defensive back Chris Lewis-Harris ripped the ball away from Marquise Goodwin as he juggled a Hoyer pass that was thrown behind him.

Running back Tim Hightower lost a fumble in the second quarter.

The Broncos capitalized on those four turnovers for all 20 of their points while shutting out the 49ers through halftime.

The 49ers’ offense showed some signs of life with Hoyer at the controls. The team gained 111 yards on their 22 plays. Hoyer completed 8 of 11 passes for 89 yards before rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard replaced him late in the first half.

Beathard continued to make a strong case to win the backup job. Beathard is in competition with Matt Barkley as the 49ers’ No. 2 quarterback.

Beathard teamed up with his former Iowa teammate, tight end George Kittle, on a 29-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Kittle caught the short pass from Beathard, turned up the left sideline, ran through an attempted tackle by Lewis-Harris, then stiff-armed safety Orion Stewart en route to the end zone.

Beathard completed 7 of his 12 pass attempts for 110 yards. His passer rating was 116.7.

FOSTER, BOWMAN START
Linebackers Reuben Foster and NaVorro Bowman, who were limited in the 49ers’ final joint practice with Denver with shoulder ailments, started played 20 snaps apiece.

With Foster and Bowman on the field, the Broncos totaled just 63 yards of total offense. Bowman had two tackles, while Foster added one before the 49ers’ first-team defense was removed in the second quarter.

Foster underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder in February. Some NFL teams reportedly did not believe he would be available to play this season. He was cleared for full-contact drills on the eve of training camp.

The 49ers said Foster’s mild AC joint sprain in his right shoulder was not related to his previous injury. He was held out of contact drills on Thursday. Bowman was pulled out of practice Thursday with a similar condition.

SITTING IT OUT
Players who did not see action due to injuries were: Defensive linemen Aaron Lynch, DeForest Buckner and Ronald Blair, linebacker Sean Porter, defensive backs Will Redmond and Prince Charles Iworah, wide receiver Aaron Burbridge, and guard Joshua Garnett.

Jimmie Ward remains on physical unable to perform due to a hamstring injury. Ward could be activated when the 49ers return to practice.

THIS ‘N’ THAT
--Undrafted rookie Victor Bolden supplied one of the lone highlights for the 49ers with a 104-yard kickoff return late in the fourth quarter.

--Eli Harold started at the strongside linebacker in place of Ahmad Brooks, who entered the game in the second quarter with the second-team defense.

--Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian connected with Jordan Taylor on a 19-yard touchdown pass against the coverage of newly signed 49ers cornerback Asa Jackson in the second quarter.

--Undrafted rookie Lorenzo Jerome started at free safety for the second game in a row. Jerome recorded two tackles and broke up a pass.

--Goodwin caught three passes for 44 yards. His first two receptions accounted for the first first downs from the 49ers’ No. 1 offense in the exhibition season.

--Rookie pass-rusher Pita Taumoepenu recorded a sack in the fourth quarter.

--The 49ers did not get much going from their top three running backs. Carlos Hyde gained 26 on eight carries. Kapri Bibbs had 6 yards on four carries. And Hightower had minus-1 yard on three attempts.

--Rookie running back Joe Williams entered the game with less than seven minutes to play. Guard Norman Price got blown back into the backfield on Williams second attempt, allowing Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris to, in essence, intercept the handoff from Barkley to Willliams.