ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The 49ers tried to get back to work on Thursday, the first day linebacker Ahmad Brooks was no longer with the team after being charged with misdemeanor sexual battery.
“It’s very unfortunate, but we’re all out here to play football and you try not to move on,” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said after the team concluded two days of practices against the Denver Broncos.
Aaron Lynch and Corey Lemonier lined up with the 49ers' first-team defense. Lynch was moved into the starting lineup when he was cleared after an offseason back condition to begin 11-on-11 work last week. Lynch moved into the starting lineup when Aldon Smith released three weeks ago.
The 49ers are also expecting rookie Eli Harold to make a contribution with Brooks out of action.
“We lost two great guys and we have to find some guys to fill that void,” 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman said.
Staley, who goes up against those players regularly in practice, believes the 49ers have the answers to compensate for the losses of their two starting players, he said.
“It’s a very talented group, and we’ve done a good job of drafting,” Staley said. “Eli’s got lot of talent. I really like the way he plays the game of football. His hustle and determination to make plays happen is big. Having Lynch come back from that surgery this offseason. He’s shown what he can do and how powerful he is. We’re excited about the guys we have there, and we’re expecting one of them to step up.”
Offensive play of the day: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick hit undrafted rookie wide receiver DeAndrew White for a 50-yard touchdown pass over Denver's backup free safety Omar Bolden.
“I’ve always liked Colin,” said Broncos general manager John Elway, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “He’s very athletic and he can make a lot of big plays. He’s doing more within the pocket, which I think if he continues to do that, it’ll help him. But he’s a great athlete, and he’s got that big-play ability to avoid things and make things happen.”
Defensive play of the day: Inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite, who returned to work with the first team defense after missing the first three weeks of training camp with a calf strain, dropped into coverage and made a leaping interception of a Peyton Manning pass attempt.
Hayne makes impact: Running back Jarryd Hayne worked mostly with the third-team offense. He caught the eye of Denver special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis, too.
“We’ve watched a lot of him, for sure,” DeCamillis said. “He’s done a great job. It’s amazing that he hasn’t played more football than he has because he definitely has a feel for it. He’s really done a good job and it’s going to be a big challenge for us coming up Saturday night.”
Injury report: Starting cornerback Tramaine Brock did not participate in team drills as he felt a “pinch” in his hamstring and was held out of practice due to what the 49ers described as a "muscle pull." Linebacker Nick Moody went down during a special-teams period with a left knee injury. Both players remained on the sideline during practice and they were scheduled to be evaluated later. Coach Jim Tomsula said he believes both injuries are minor.
This ‘n’ that: : The 49ers and Broncos concluded their two days of practices Thursday without any skirmishes. The most tension shown on the practice field came during a one-on-one pass-rush drill was when 49ers offensive guard Brandon Thomas stonewalled Broncos defensive end Antonio Smith. Smith then took a swipe at Thomas, who did not retaliate. . . During a pass-rush drill, 49ers defensive lineman Quinton Dial flattened rookie center Dillon Day. . . The 49ers’ offensive line struggled against the Broncos pass rush. The Broncos rolled up at least eight would-be sacks against the 49ers and forced several more quarterback scrambles. . . The 49ers had some issues with the center-quarterback exchange. Marcus Martin and Kaepernick fumbled a snap. Joe Looney had a high snap to backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert. . . Wide receiver Bruce Ellington caught a short touchdown pass from Gabbert during a red-zone period. . . Kendall Hunter saw plenty of action in the running game. He had a fumbled exchange with Kaepernick, but he also caught a Kaepernick pass out of the backfield. . . White caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Gabbert over the coverage of second-string cornerback Kayvon Webster. Quinton Patton ran a clear out on that side to leave White one-on-one. . . Linebacker Shayne Skov had a would-be sack of backup QB Brock Osweiller. . . Keith Reaser made an outstanding defensive play when he laid out for a diving pass breakup of a Manning pass intended for Jordan Norwood. Reaser came back a short time later to break up another deep Manning pass intended for Norwood. . . 49ers nose tackle Garrison Smith batted down a Zac Dysert pass at the line of scrimmage. . . Torrey Smith caught back-to-back quick outs during a two-minute drill. . . That period ended with Kaepernick’s pass was tipped by Brandon Marshall, a teammate of Kaepernick’s at Nevada, and intercepted by free safety Darian Stewart. Reggie Bush stripped Stewart of the ball on the return, but the Broncos fell on the fumble. . .The official on the right sideline incorrectly ruled a deep pass from Manning to receiver Cody Latimer inbounds despite perfect coverage from Kenneth Acker to force him out of bounds before the catch. NaVorro Bowman vehemently disputed the call, as he called on reporters who had a good view of the play to confirm Latimer was clearly out of bounds. (Bowman was correct; and it was even close). . . On the next play, Manning hit receiver Demaryius Thomas on an eight-yard touchdown on a quick slant against Shareece Wright. . . Cornerback Dontae Johnson had a couple of deep pass breakups on Osweiler passes intended for rookie Jordan Taylor and Corbin Louks. . . 49ers rookie QB Dylan Thompson’s pass intended for Ellington was intercepted by rookie safety Josh Furman. . . Gabbert’s two-minute drill ended with a four-and-out. . . Thompson hit DiAndre Campbell on a deep post for a TD to end the third-team’s two-minute drill. . . Cornerback Mylan Hicks broke up Dysert’s pass for former 49ers practice-squad player Nathan Palmer in the end zone to end the day. . . The practice Thursday was the final 49ers practice that will be open to the media this season. NFL rules force all teams to open their practices to the media through the first two exhibition games. Also, joint practices must be open, which is why the media was allowed to watch the two practices this week.
Returned to practice: FB Bruce Miller (personal matter).
Did not practice: Safety Craig Dahl (back), tight end Vance McDonald (left ankle), linebackers Desmond Bishop (left thumb) and Philip Wheeler (leg strain)
Physically unable to perform: C Daniel Kilgore (left leg)
Non-football injury/illness: WR DeAndre Smelter (knee)
Next practice: The 49ers and Broncos will suit up and play Saturday night in the third exhibition game for both teams. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. (PT).