SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers got a much-needed change Wednesday when they hosted the Denver Broncos for the first of two days of joint practices ahead of Saturday night’s preseason game.
After it was over, the Niners were pleased with what they got done against the Broncos.
“I tried to perch myself right there in the middle and it was like a tennis match going back and forth,” general manager John Lynch said. “I tried to watch just as much as possible and really, I know that’s a playoff caliber team and so you want to see ‘How are we measuring up?’ It’s a practice. But I was proud of the way our guys competed on both sides of the field and on special teams. It’s a great measuring stick and it’s a great opportunity for our team to go up against one of the deeper rosters in football and see how we stack up.”
When the Niners and Broncos had similar practices in Denver last year, the 49ers seemed to be well behind the Broncos. But that didn’t seem to be the case in Wednesday’s workout. The 49ers held their own against coach Vance Joseph and Co.
Both teams were in full pads and they were able to test each other beyond the confines of a normal workout.
“I think players get excited and the juices get flowing a little bit but when you practice against each other all the time, our defensive players are calling out our offensive plays all the time,” Lynch said. “You know the audibles, so you are going up against something where it’s not scripted. You don’t know everything they’re doing so it’s true competition. It really is as close to a game as possible.”
And while many of these practices often feature a major skirmish or two, the Niners and Broncos made it through this one without any real issues. The only problem arose when Niners rookie defensive back Adrian Colbert delivered a big hit to Denver tight end Steven Scheu. That led to a short altercation before the sides were separated and Niners staff immediately went to Colbert to get him to settle down. After sitting out a few plays, Colbert was back in the mix and the Niners made amends with Joseph and general manager John Elway.
The 49ers and Broncos will have one more practice together on Thursday, though it won’t be a fully-padded session. This is the third year in a row the teams have worked out together and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon given the ties between the likes of Lynch, Elway, Shanahan and Joseph. In fact, Lynch wouldn’t mind adding some other teams to the mix.
“(Patriots coach Bill) Belichick has done three this year,” Lynch said. “In the future, I don’t think you can get enough of this, if you can handle it like that. If it becomes a melee, it becomes very unproductive. I really commend both coaches for getting their teams right because when it is right, it’s the best thing you can do.”