You’ve already gotten a taste of how the 49ers’ starting defense (minus Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman) played on Sunday against the Broncos and things weren’t too much better on the other side of the ball.
Alex Smith and Vernon Davis hooked up on a 45-yard touchdown pass after the Broncos botched an onside kick, but the starters only gained 38 other yards during their half of play. There were problems on the offensive line from the start as Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil each made plays behind the line during the 49ers’ first possession and they continued with a fumbled snap and back-to-back penalties for guard Mike Iupati.
The penalties followed a delay of game call coming out of a 49ers timeout and one or all of the calls led coach Jim Harbaugh to give himself another headache yelling at one of the officials. Given the amount of pressure that the Broncos got and the lack of a running game (which was missing both Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James), he might get another one when he watches the film.
Smith wound up 5-of-7 for 69 yards, mostly keeping things short outside of the throw to Davis and an overthrown deep attempt to Randy Moss when Moss was surrounded by three Broncos. The respect shown to Moss by the Denver defense is a promising sign for the Niners as long as Smith can find receivers who might be open underneath as a result. That didn’t happen enough on Sunday, but the offensive line’s struggles definitely impacted what Smith was able to do.