Quarterback Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to a field goal in the first unit's only series. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The 49ers lost their exhibition opener to the Denver Broncos Thursday night, but that didn’t matter.
What did matter was they didn’t lose a quarterback.
Colt McCoy, acquired this past offseason to back up starter Colin Kaepernick, suffered an apparent shoulder injury in the second quarter of the Niners’ 10-6 loss to Denver at Candlestick Park and had to leave the game. While attempting a long pass for wide receiver A.J. Jenkins in the second quarter, McCoy appeared to take a hit on his arm.
The quarterback left the game and was replaced by Scott Tolzien.
The extent of the injury to McCoy wasn’t immediately announced, but it apparently isn’t serious – a stroke of good luck for the 49ers, who sought out the veteran for insurance because of the departure of Alex Smith. McCoy remained in full uniform for the remainder of the game, standing along the sideline. Later, it was described as a "shoulder stinger."
Two other 49ers also were hurt. Rookie linebacker Nick Moody had to be helped off the field after an injury, to a knee, and veteran safety Raymond Ventrone suffered a hamstring injury and left the game. Later, Moody tweeted that his knee was OK.
For the 49ers, the game was typical of a first summer exhibition, with some good, some bad and a lot of ugly.
Colin Kaepernick started but gave way early to McCoy, completing all four of his passes for 38 yards. On the 49ers’ first offensive series, he drove his team 62 yards on 13 plays, eating up 7:07 and producing a 32-yard field goal by newcomer Phil Dawson (who would tack on another field goal of 38 yards in the fourth quarter).
But the Broncos took the lead for good in the second quarter when running back D.J. Harper fumbled the ball away and linebacker Shaun Phillips returned it for a touchdown. The turnover was one of four committed by the 49ers reserves Thursday night, with most first-stringers for both teams leaving after one series.
Among the highlights: the strong play of nose tackle Ian Williams and rookie linebacker Corey Lemonier; the four catches by rookie tight end Vance McDonald for 66 yards; and an 11-yard reception by wide receiver Jenkins, his first since the preseason of 2012. Also, the play of rookie safety Eric Reid, who was praised by head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Among the lowlights: Harper’s fumble, fumbles by running back LaMichael James and Jenkins – after his lone catch – and interceptions thrown by McCoy and Tolzien.
After assessing injuries and getting back to practice, the 49ers next Friday will take on the Chiefs in Kansas City in exhibition No. 2.