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NAPA, Calif. — Raiders general manager Mike Mayock addressed the media Sunday with the following statement regarding absent wide receiver Antonio Brown:
“You all know that A.B. is not here today. So here’s the bottom line. He’s upset about the helmet issue. We have supported that. We appreciate that. But at this point we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all in, or all out. So we’re hoping he’s back soon. We’ve got 89 guys busting their tails. We’re really excited about where this franchise is going. And we hope A.B. will be a big part of it, starting Week 1 against Denver. End of story. No questions. Just wanted you guys to know where we were.”
More to come …
When the Broncos’ offense and San Francisco’s defense brawled Saturday morning during their second joint practice, rookie quarterback Drew Lock chose discretion over valor.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a peacemaker, but I pick my fights wisely,” Lock said with a laugh.
Lock and the rest of the Broncos offense would be wise to take the fight to the 49ers in Monday night’s preseason game (6 p.m.). After a woeful Friday performance, the offense responded with action (more good plays) and words (out-chirping the chirpy 49ers).
A carry-over for Lock will allow him to take another step toward being Joe Flacco’s backup on Sept. 9 against Oakland.
Lock was 7-of-11 passing for 34 yards against Atlanta. The operation was clumsy and Lock’s throws inaccurate.
At Seattle, Lock was 17-of-28 passing for 180 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Better? Yes. Something to build on? Of course. Things to work on? Absolutely.
Lock’s post-Seahawks focus has included identifying the pressures and where they’re coming from.
“Let’s get that mind going so I don’t have to take some of the hits that I did in the last game and complete some balls that I need to (so) we can extend some drives,” he said.
Flacco will start for the Broncos against San Francisco, and coach Vic Fangio did not reveal the quarterback order after Saturday’s practice. Against Atlanta, Kevin Hogan started, followed by Lock and Brett Rypien. At Seattle, Flacco started and played one series, followed by Hogan for only 11 snaps and Lock for the final 48 plays.
The key for Lock per Fangio is not treating the bad plays as “failures,” but as learning experiences.
“I’m super hard on myself regardless of the situation I’m in,” Lock said. “You feel like you should walk up and down the field and when that doesn’t happen, I take it a little hard on myself and beat myself up a little bit.
“But we had a talk about it and to learn from the bad things, that’s what really good quarterbacks do. That’s what I’m trying to evolve into and become.”
Albeit with Flacco in for only one series (a field goal), the Broncos have 28 points in two preseason games. If there isn’t urgency, there should be.
“We’ve got to get ready to go,” Fangio said. “The season’s not waiting. We’ve got to get oiled up and ready to go quickly. (The season is) three weeks away and time’s running short.”
DENVER – Pay attention early to catch 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and other starters in their exhibition-season debut Monday night against the Broncos.
After keeping 31 players out of their exhibition opener, the 49ers will allow cameo appearances for their mainstays against the Broncos, who already served a greater purpose hosting the 49ers for joint practices Friday and Saturday.
Here are five questions needing answers:
How much does Garoppolo need to play?
It’s been 11 months since 49ers fans last saw Garoppolo in uniform, and he’s right on track to return from surgery on the anterior cruicate ligament in his left knee.
“He’s had a really good camp,” general manager John Lynch said. “I’m hesitant and reluctant to say it but his recovery from his knee has been like flawless. … That’s allowed him to focus on what he needs to do, and that’s play.”
Garoppolo will punch in his timecard for only “a little bit” of work Monday night, said coach Kyle Shanahan. Factoring into that workload is how safe Garoppolo will be against Von Miller & Co. Right guard Mike Person likely won’t play after straining his left foot Thursday.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator from 2011-14, was impressed by what he saw from Garoppolo in joint practices. “They’re a very good offense,” Fangio said. “You can see that they’re in their third year there with (the system). … They’re running it very efficiently.”
That’s somewhat true, but there also have been a lot of hiccups. A one-and-done series by Garoppolo won’t solve that. It will, however, at least let him clear a mental hurdle and desensitize him in his comeback.
Which receivers make strides?
Rookies Jalen Hurd and Deebo Samuel electrified hopes of a stronger receiving corps thanks to their exhibition-opener plays against the Dallas Cowboys. Giving them more opportunities in this encore will be worthwhile.
However, keep an eye on a couple other receivers, too. First, Dante Pettis has had an “up and down” camp, Shanahan said, in terms of how he’s answering defenders’ physical challenges. Pettis’ stock is dropping some, so the 49ers want to see him ramp up his performances as the season approaches.
With Trent Taylor a week removed from foot surgery, Richie James’ roster bid keeps improving as not only a receiver but a punt returner. “He’s done a good job and stepped it up throughout camp,” Shanahan said of James, who dropped Nick Mullens’ opening pass in the exhibition opener.
Can Tarvarius Moore start at free safety?
When camp opened three weeks ago, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said Moore is “by no means even close to being an NFL-ready safety by Week 1.” Well, a bunch of interceptions and first-team reps late, Moore is a legitimate candidate to start at free safety.
“We knew we had a playmaker and as soon as he’s looking at the ball that way and does not have his back turned, we’ve seen that play-making come alive,” Lynch said. “He still has a ways to go. But he’s starting to hone the details and alignments. Really excited where Tarvarius is going.”
Jimmie Ward still pencils out as the projected starter, but the 49ers are keeping him out of full-team action until next week, with a chance of debuting Saturday night at Kansas City. “At some point, you’ve got to go play football,” Lynch said.
The forgotten man in this race is Adrian Colbert, who opened last season as the starter but has fallen down the depth chart. A helmet-leading hit drew his ejection after seven snaps against the Cowboys.
How bad is the offensive line’s depth?
Team officials were relieved that Person only sustained a foot strain, but with him likely shelved, they’re shorthanded on reliable blockers. If Najee Toran starts as expected at right guard, this might be the biggest opportunity of his young career.
Weston Richburg (quadriceps) and Joshua Garnett (finger) remain out, so the 49ers will rotate all other linemen and hope for better results than against the Cowboys, when false start and holding penalties marred that opening night.
The Broncos defensive linemen dominated practices this week, so the 49ers front needs a better showing to help Garoppolo, Nick Mullens and presumably C.J. Beathard, who missed Tuesday with a sore thumb but worked the ensuing three practices.
Which pass rushers will shine?
One of the most impressive aspects about the 49ers defensive front is how physical and aggressive it’s been amid injuries.
“Even when you’re missing Dee Ford and (Nick) Bosa right now, we’re still making plays, we’re getting the rush, we still have the intensity,” said cornerback Richard Sherman, adding that the defense is “light years ahead of last year.”
DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas all figure to make their exhibition debuts, but that may not be the case with Ronald Blair (groin). Jeremiah Valoaga had two sacks against the Cowboys in a surprise showing, and he got tutored hard this week by defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.
Kentavius Street’s comeback might be the most underreported story of training camp. Out all of his rookie year recovering from an ACL tear, he’s shown his much-ballyhooed strength throughout practices. Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock should keep an eye out for No. 95 on the edge.
AUSTIN, Texas — Former NFL running back Cedric Benson, one of the most prolific rushers in NCAA and University of Texas history, has died in a motorcycle accident in Texas. He was 36.
Benson’s attorney, Sam Bassett, said Austin law enforcement told him that Benson was killed in the wreck Saturday night. Bassett said he did not have details of the accident.
“Cedric was not just a client, he was my friend,” Bassett said. “He was immensely talented and fierce on the football field, yet most have no idea the difficulties he overcame to achieve what he did. Though imperfect in some respects, once Cedric was your friend you understood how kind, sensitive and loyal he was as a man.”
Benson was one of the top high school recruits out of the West Texas town of Midland. According to Texas Football magazine, he is eighth on the career rushing list for Texas high schools. He led Midland Lee to three straight state championships, the only three in school history, from 1998-2000.
He then went on to be a key player in the Longhorns’ resurgence under coach Mack Brown. Benson played at Texas from 2001-2004 and his 5,540 yards ranks second at the university and ninth in NCAA history. He scored 64 career touchdowns with the Longhorns and won the Doak Walker award, given to the nation’s top running back, in 2004.
He was the only player in school history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in four seasons and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Honor in 2014.
Benson was drafted No. 4 overall by the Chicago Bears in 2005 and played eight seasons in the NFL with the Bears, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers. He finished his career with 6,017 yards and 46 touchdowns.
Benson returned to Austin after his playing career and set up a foundation, NUFCED, to aid underprivileged children and families. Those efforts included helping repair damage at the home of the first victim killed in a series of bombings in Austin early 2018.
Associated Press writers Jamie Stengle in Dallas and Schuyler Dixon in Arlington, Texas, contributed to this report.
Five Broncos to watch in Monday’s preseason home game against the San Francisco 49ers (6 p.m.):
1. Joe Flacco
Eleven snaps and a drive that ended with a field goal was Flacco’s work against Seattle and he is expected to play more against the 49ers. There were no real things to clean up from last week except avoiding the communication-type errors that led to him bumping into running back Phillip Lindsay. “I think Joe’s still getting a feel for the offense,” general manager John Elway said. “He’ll get better as he gets more play time in these preseason games.”
2. Noah Fant
Fant, the Broncos’ first-round pick, has three catches for 21 yards in two games, but particularly in the last week of practice, he is showing a definitive comfort level with the passing system. Fant exhibited good hands and route-running throughout the six practices since the Seattle game and on Saturday, he had his way with a 49ers linebacker via a pattern down the left seam. With more playing time Monday, it will be interesting to track where Fant lines up.
3. Bryce Callahan
Callahan was a healthy scratch against Atlanta and held out with a foot injury at Seattle. A nickel back covering the slot receiver for coach Vic Fangio in Chicago, Callahan has moved outside since signing with the Broncos. Pre-foot injury, Callahan was having a terrific camp, consistently showing up during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 by being around the football. Even if just for a few snaps, Callahan’s No. 29 is one to watch.
4. Trey Marshall
Can Marshall, who has five tackles and one pass break-up in the preseason, wedge his way onto the roster as a fourth or fifth safety? Monday will be key because No. 3 safety Will Parks (hamstring) is out and Su’a Cravens, who is competing for the Nos. 4-5 spots, isn’t expected to play after missing three consecutive practices with an illness.
5. Ahmad Gooden
An undrafted rookie, Gooden has three tackles in 34 snaps of work through two preseason games. He could exceed that play-time total against San Francisco because Jeff Holland was waived on Aug. 11 and camp standout/fellow undrafted rookie Malik Reed missed the last three practices because of an oblique injury. Since Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and top reserve Dekoda Watson will play sparingly, Gooden has a chance to make a practice squad case statement.
As teddy bears ago, Dalton Risner bites.
Bryce Ford witnessed the beast that drives the Broncos’ rookie guard firsthand a few years back when the former Wiggins High baseball standout and Risner family friend paid a call to the Kansas State campus.
It was a victorious Saturday for the Wildcats, and as Aggieville danced, Ford sashayed into Dalton’s living room, expecting to join the family in celebration mode. Instead, he found Risner and his father, Mitch, still wearing game faces, still hashing out the game, blow by blow. Still grinding.
“They’re talking about the playbook and how they can improve the playbook, just thinking, overall, about how to get better,” Ford recalls. “They never settle. They’re never content with what they have. They always want to be the best. They’re always striving to be great.
“It’s a great attitude to take, a winner’s attitude. Dalton has always aspired for greatness.”
If this was after a win, Heaven help you after a loss.
“He is really competitive in that regard,” explains Charlie Dickey, Risner’s former offensive line coach at K-State. “And that’s what separates him. I’ve had some great players, and he’s the best I’ve ever had at just playing with that edge. Not that the other guys didn’t, but he just carried it over. He just took it to another level.”
As teddy bears go, Risner is us, only elevated.
In the cynical darkness of 2019, he’s a shaft of light, a reminder that no dream is too big, no check too large for your talent to cash, once you’ve invested enough sweat, enough blood, enough tears.
Risner, who grew up in Wiggins, 65 miles northeast of the Broncos’ Ring of Fame, is slated to start at left guard for Denver on Monday in the team’s preseason home debut against San Francisco. It’s pinch-me stuff, a childhood dream fulfilled, the kid who used to sit in the stands at Broncos Stadium growing up to run out of the tunnel himself.
Meanwhile, the kid is having none of it.
“I’m nowhere (near) where I need to be,” Dalton says. “(I’m) very happy with how I’ve progressed and happy with the coaching that I’ve gotten from (offensive line coach Mike) Munchak. But I have a lot of work to go to be ready for what I think I need to be (for Week 1), playing the Raiders.”
Colorado proud. Colorado poise. Colorado pushing.
Greatness isn’t a wish.
It’s a process.
“The first day of pads on, man, (Risner) was all over the place,” Munchak chuckles. “Because he was just like, ‘Whoa, things are happening fast, here,’ but in a fun way. Then, all of a sudden, now he’s finding his way.
“And he’s dealing with guys like Shelby (Harris) and Von (Miller) and he’s seeing things that happen fast that he never saw in college. And you know, college guys need to see all this stuff, so the preseason will be really important to him.”
Munchak isn’t the gushing kind. A Hall of Fame guard with a teaching pedigree to match, he’s seen everything about five times over. Hyperbole is for the kids. But drop Risner’s name into the convo, and it’s Gush City.
“He’s confident, he’s versatile, he’s a communicator, which is what we needed,” says Munchak, who joined the Broncos over the winter to help shore up a pocket that surrendered 34 sacks in 2018, tied for 10th-most in the NFL. “And (I) just thought he’d be a great fit next to (left tackle) Garett (Bolles), (two) guys that can work together for a long period of time. He’s a work-in-progress, obviously. But he has all the skills that you want: he’s got long arms, he’s got the great size, he’s a competitor.
“You know it’s important to him, he’s into it, he respects the game. When he came for the visits, it’s like, ‘Yeah, this guy would fit us perfect.’ (I) watched him on tape, yeah, he looked good at right tackle (in college). You feel good about him when you brought him in, you meet the guy, he takes over the room a little bit. And those are the kind of guys you want on your team. Every level, it’s fun watching him. Because you didn’t know how the first couple days were going to go, and he figured out the technique and he’s done really well.”
How well? Over the Broncos’ first two preseason games only one offensive player on the Denver roster cracked Pro Football Focus’ top 3 game grades in both contests: Risner, as the rookie scored a 72.5 against Atlanta, and a 68.3 for his efforts in Seattle.
Over 15 pass-blocking snaps, PFF has yet to charge the rookie with surrendering a sack, a hit — or even so much as a hurry.
“It’s a very small sample size, but still impressive that he’s yet to concede a pressure,” PFF senior manager Gordon McGuinness says. “It’s nitpicking because his run-blocking has been fine, but he just hasn’t dominated there yet. He has only played 14 snaps as a run-blocker so far, though, so that should come in time.”
Greatness isn’t given.
“He’s doing well,” first-year Broncos coach Vic Fangio says. “A credit to him and the program where he’s come from, his hometown, (that) he’s more NFL ready than most players at this stage of their career. I wouldn’t give him his union card yet as an NFL guard, but he’s well on his way.”
As teddy bears ago, No. 66 mashes.
For all the children’s books, the charitable work, the heart of gold, the DaltonMania, it’s the edge — pass-blocking, passion, competitive juice — that McGuinness and his PFF cohorts have adored in Risner’s game ever since he began laying waste to the Big 12 four years ago.
“He’ll have competition to be the steal of the (second) round, at least in the eyes of many,” McGuinness says. “However, it wouldn’t be a shock at all to see him being the steal of the round in terms of PFF grades, that’s for sure. He was the highest-ranked player the Broncos drafted on our big board, and we would have thought it was a perfectly good pick if the Broncos had taken him in Round 1, so to get him in Round 2 was great.”
What’s the comp? The ceiling? Dan Neil? Mark Schlereth? Louis Vasquez? Higher?
“You don’t want to go overboard, but in terms of ceiling he has all the tools to be one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL,” McGuinness replies. “Moving inside is something we’ve seen from plenty of offensive linemen, and one that sticks out is Baltimore Ravens guard Marshal Yanda. He even spent his rookie season at right tackle in Baltimore, and was one of the best right tackles in the NFL, but moving inside allowed him to dominate at a level that should see him in the Hall of Fame one day.
“Hall-of-Fame level is an unfair expectation on any rookie, especially one with fewer than 30 preseason snaps under his belt, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves here with Risner. But if you’re looking for the blueprint for a player who wasn’t a first-round draft pick, moved inside, and dominated at guard, Yanda should be the modern benchmark.”
Even for a plugger who’s always aspired for greatness, that’s an awfully high bar. And the kid’s still having none of it.
“Really? Oh, wow,” Risner laughs. “I haven’t seen any PFF (write-ups). I’m worried about what Munchak thinks, bro.
Greatness isn’t assumed.
“Some guys don’t know how to do it,” Dickey says. “He knows how to turn it on and turn it off, and how to be a regular human being off the field. That’s what makes him so special.”
Just not the only thing. Not by a long shot.
Four weeks into training camp, the Broncos still have another three weeks before they open the regular season Sept. 9 at the Oakland Raiders.
And that is fine with general manager John Elway, who sees progress, but many steps still to climb.
“It’s been a good camp and it’s nice to break to camp (Saturday), but we have a ways to go,” Elway said after the Broncos and 49ers wrapped up their second day of practice. “It’s good that we still have three (preseason) games left because at this point in time, we’re not ready to go. But we’ve definitely made some strides. We feel good about where we are.”
Where the Broncos are: As expected, still finding the right mix on offense. … Fighting injuries that have impacted their depth. … Trying to figure out the back-of-the-roster spots. … With a 1-1 record entering Monday’s preseason game against San Francisco.
Where they want to be on Week 1: Consistently challenging teams downfield. … Receiver Emmanuel Sanders available with no restrictions. … Inside linebacker Todd Davis starting after missing most of camp (calf injury). … And clarity in the return game.
During a briefing with reporters, Elway hit on several topics, including these five:
Fan of Fangio
What’s the story: Vic Fangio’s first training camp as a head coach has been relatively seamless. He has managed the schedule well, inserting extra off days after both preseason games and he and his coaches have stressed a pick-up-the-pace approach.
Elway said: “Vic’s done a good job. He’s been everything I thought he would be. I like his style, the way he goes about it (with) no music and the focus he’s brought back to the practice field (with) the tempo and reps. But, obviously, we still have to win football games.”
Analysis: The only real drama for Fangio to deal with this month was the fight between receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton. The Broncos have issues to figure out, but the head coach isn’t one of them.
What’s the story: Judging by the practice snap distribution this week, it would be surprising if Drew Lock isn’t the second quarterback in the game Monday. Lock is 24-of-39 passing for 214 yards and one touchdown and interception apiece in the preseason.
Elway said: “He continues to get better. He’s been overloaded. Any time you have a young guy like that, he’s going to have his good days and he’s going to have his bad days, but obviously we’re still excited about the talent he has and what he’s showed. He’s flashed — a lot. But it’s a big jump for him, especially with what we’re doing offensively and the verbiage that goes along with it, that’s going to take some time. But he’s done a nice job.”
Analysis: If Lock plays well against San Francisco, he should be named the No. 2 quarterback going into the season. Period.
Offensive line progress
What’s the story: The Broncos don’t have any competition on their first-team offensive line. It will be left tackle Garett Bolles, left guard Dalton Risner, center Connor McGovern, right guard Ron Leary (if healthy) and right tackle Ja’Wuan James against the Raiders. But new offensive line coach Mike Munchak is trying players at different spots on the second- and third-team lines.
Elway said: “It’s been a good camp. I think we’re better there. Obviously, we have to continue to work and we’re a little bit thin there. … They’re working really well together on the left side. Risner has been good for Garett as well as (Munchak).”
Analysis: A telling comment from Elway, offering that the Broncos are a “little bit thin.” What we take that to mean is look for him, Munchak and the personnel department to be taking a close look at the waiver wire Sept. 1 when teams cut from 90 to 53 players.
What’s the story: In the last two-plus weeks, the Broncos have lost inside linebacker Joe Jones (triceps), fullback Andy Janovich (pectoral) and running back Theo Riddick (shoulder) with injuries that should carry into the regular season. If the Broncos want each player to be available this year, they must be on the initial 53-man roster.
Elway said: “It makes things more difficult depending on how many (injured) guys we can carry on the 53 and where they are (in their recovery). Knock on wood, I would like for it to be the last injury (of camp), but I doubt it will. Those are things we’ll have to deal with at the cut.”
Analysis: If the Broncos don’t sustain anymore injuries on the aforementioned trio’s timeframe, they should be OK stashing them on the roster while they rehabilitate.
Fan of joint practices
What’s the story: The Broncos completed their only joint practice sessions of training camp on Saturday. Although not as valuable as a preseason game, the two days were a chance for the coaches to evaluate their younger players. Fangio would like to practice with two opponents next year.
Elway said: “I would (too) because I think it’s great. We get good work, we get better concentration, we get better competition. I would like to do it as many times as we can. We tried to find another team this year (but) couldn’t do it so we’ll work on that (for 2020). If we can do it two times next year, I’m all for it.”
Analysis: The extended training camp schedule because of the Pro Football Hall of Fame game likely impacted the Broncos finding a second opponent. Another factor is the short week between the 49ers and Rams games.
Mike Shanahan’s football worlds collided over the past 48 hours at UCHealth Training Center.
The former longtime Broncos coach (1995-2008) visited training camp Friday and Saturday for joint practices with the 49ers, coached by his son, Kyle. And dad was all smiles when talking to reporters at team headquarters for the first time since he was fired.
“It’s great to be back,” Shanahan said. “To get a chance to be at this facility — I haven’t been here in 10 years — and to see all the changes and a lot of the people you were here before working with, it’s great to see and be a part of.”
John Elway, Broncos general manager and president of football operations, added: “Mike’s always been a big part of this organization and always will be. It’s nice to have him come back out. In my mind, it was never really closed, but it was nice to get communication back. I’ve played some golf with Mike, too, and told him he was more than welcome to come out here anytime. … I’m glad he’s able to come back and know that this is home for him.”
Over the course of a 10-minute interview, Shanahan spoke on a variety of topics and briefly addressed a surprise report from last December — that Elway considered firing former coach Vance Joseph after the 2017 season and replacing him with Shanahan.
“I had a great conversation with John as everybody knows and it didn’t work out,” Shanahan said. “You know, sometimes it works out for the right reasons.”
Shanahan, who last coached the 2013 Redskins, said he has been “close” to leading an NFL team again in the years since his retirement. Shanahan won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII with Denver and touts a coaching record of 170-138 (.55). But an NFL return would come with certain stipulations.
“I made the decision a long time ago right when I got fired. If I didn’t get the right job right away where I had a chance to win a Super Bowl, that I was probably going to do what I’m doing; just kind of being a dad and following your son and the (49ers) organization and being a part of it,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan has been a regular at 49ers practices since Kyle was hired in 2017 and grew close with then-quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello, now the Broncos’ first-year offensive coordinator. Shanahan also had extensive experience game-planning against Fangio during his multiple decades as an NFL defensive coordinator.
“I know Vic. I’ve gone against him for 30 years,” Shanahan said. “I know what you’re getting as a football coach and what you’re getting as a man. Players are going to respect him because there is going to be no BS and he is going to say it the way it is. I think he’ll make the right calls on game day.”
So it appears that any public animosity between the Broncos and their legendary former coach has officially been put to rest.
Shanahan spent much of the two joint practices standing solo to process the action from different vantage points. His coaching days appear over. Shanahan’s love for the game? Still strong.
“John has invited me back a number of times over the last couple of years,” Shanahan said. “Then with Vic, knowing him very well and a number of coaches with Scangarello being here, and a number of other people … I thought it was time to get back here. Enjoy the years that we had here and just be a part of it.”
Pushed around by the 49ers during Friday’s practice, the Broncos’ offense showed more execution and spunk during Saturday’s session, culminating in a spirited skirmish.
“We had to come out here with an edge to us and not let them set the tempo,” receiver Tim Patrick said.
The brouhaha happened during the second period of 11-on-11 work. Two plays after running back David Williams jawed with several 49ers defenders, things escalated after he finished a carry.
“One person hit me and then a second person hit me and I was like, ‘OK, cool,’” Williams said. “But then third person came up to hit me.”
Cue chaos. Punches were definitely thrown, but only the coach’s tape will provide definitive evidence.
Broncos receiver Brendan Langley and tight end Bug Howard were ejected from practice.
“I had instructed the coaches that if something happened extracurricular-wise that they deemed (a player should be) removed from the field, do it,” said Broncos coach Vic Fangio, who was on the other field.
No 49ers player was dismissed from practice by their coaches.
Williams appreciated his teammates coming to his aid.
“That just shows how close we are as a team and have each other’s back,” he said.
Before and after the brawl, the Broncos offense showed up well.
“We came out firing,” quarterback Drew Lock said. “A lot of positive plays. Got the juices flowing early so when that happens, it’s going to be a good day.”
Said general manager John Elway: “We had a better day (Saturday). I don’t know if we met the intensity (Friday) that the Niners put out there and that’s up to us.”
Quarterback Joe Flacco was 6-of-7 passing during the first 11-on-11 period, including a terrific catch by receiver Courtland Sutton over cornerback Richard Sherman. Receiver Kelvin McKnight had a one-handed catch on a pass thrown by Lock.
During the second 11-on-11 period, Flacco’s drive started with a screen pass to running back Royce Freeman that was busted open when left guard Dalton Risner pancake-blocked linebacker Malcolm Smith downfield. After the brawl, Flacco connected deep with receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Miller sits out. Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller missed his first practice of training camp.
“He’s OK,” Fangio said. “He’s made every practice we’ve had since OTAs and we decided to give him a day off.”
Also not practicing: Fullback Andy Janovich (pectoral), cornerback Horace Richardson (back), outside linebacker Malik Reed (oblique), running backs Theo Riddick (shoulder) and Khalfani Muhammad (undisclosed), safeties Dymonte Thomas (attending funeral), Su’a Cravens (illness) and Will Parks (hamstring) and inside linebackers Todd Davis (calf) and Joseph Jones (triceps).
K. Shanahan homecoming. On Friday morning, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan made his first visit to the Broncos’ facility in more than a decade, since his father, Mike, was the team’s coach.
“It looks completely different,” said Kyle, an alum of Cherry Creek High School. “There used to be a (practice) bubble that blew down one day. The facility looks great. I really enjoyed our time here.”
The 49ers used the Broncos’ indoor facility as their locker room, but Shanahan visited coach Vic Fangio’s office in the main building.
“It was different walking in — it’s been remodeled a bunch,” Shanahan said. “A very special place to me.”
No QB order. Two days ahead of the first two preseason games, Fangio announced the order the quarterbacks would enter the game.
Not this time, though, for Monday night.
“I’m not sure yet,” Fangio said. “We’re going to discuss that (Saturday night).”
Lock took the majority of second-team snaps during the six days of practice following the Seattle game.
Return game “wide open”. Special teams coordinator Tom McMahon said the punt/kick return jobs remain “wide open.”
“We haven’t had any production,” McMahon said. “Somebody has to produce and separate themselves. I’ll be honest with you — nobody has produced at an NFL level and we have to block better. We got our tail kicked (last week at Seattle).”
Staff writer Kyle Fredrickson contributed to this story.