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  • Marcio Jose Sanchez / The Associated Press

    San Francisco wide receiver A.J. Jenkins fumbles after Denver safety Duke Ihenacho tackles him in the second quarter. The Broncos recovered.

  • Ben Margot / The Associated Press

    Quarterback Colin Kaepernick runs from Broncos linebacker Von Miller during the first quarter of Thursday's preseason game in San Francisco.

49ers, Jenkins drop ball

Published: Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 - 8:05 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Marlon Moore was one of the starting receivers while Vance McDonald and Kassim Osgood were the standout receivers in the 49ers' 10-6 loss to Denver on Thursday.

Receiver A.J. Jenkins?

"Could have been better," said Jim Harbaugh, who is looking for one of his young wideouts to seize a starting role this summer.

As has been the case in practice, Jenkins played far more snaps than any other receiver before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter. But the former first-round pick caught only one of the three passes that went his way, and he fumbled after initially escaping the cornerback.

Another deep pass to Jenkins from Colt McCoy late in the second quarter was intercepted. In fairness, Jenkins was open, but McCoy did not account for the Broncos safety.

McCoy suffered a shoulder injury – what he described as a stinger – before the interception and said he should have taken himself out of the game. He will have an MRI this morning.

In all, the 49ers committed four turnovers – two fumbles and two interceptions, one of the interceptions by No. 3 quarterback Scott Tolzien.

"When you turn the ball over four times, you've got work to do," Harbaugh said.

Colin Kaepernick started the game at quarterback with a methodical, 13-play drive reminiscent of his predecessor, Alex Smith. It included two passes to newcomer Anquan Boldin, who has been the quarterback's most trusted target in training camp, and another to tight end Vernon Davis for 12 yards.

A scrambling Kaepernick also hit Moore on a diving, 12-yard catch on third down. But the 49ers had been backed up by false-start penalty on the sequence and had to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Phil Dawson, his first as a 49er.

With that, Kaepernick's night was over.

McCoy entered on the ensuing sequence, underscoring that Kaepernick not only is the unquestioned starter but that risking him to an August injury, such as the one McCoy suffered, far outweighs any added polish he can achieve in the preseason.

Most of the team's other veterans also had a short night. Some, like running back Frank Gore, didn't play.

With Kendall Hunter still rehabilitating from last season's Achilles' injury, La-Michael James started at tailback and gained 24 yards on the opening drive. James, however, struggled when the 49ers' starting offensive line wasn't in front of him. He gained only three more yards on four more carries the rest of the game and nearly fumbled a handoff deep in San Francisco territory on the opening drive.

The next running back to play was D.J. Harper, an undrafted rookie from Boise State who has impressed coaches with his toughness this summer. Harper, however, was partly responsible for the game's lone touchdown when, early in the second quarter, he was hit in the backfield, fumbled and Denver outside linebacker Shaun Phillips picked up the loose ball and ran nine yards into the end zone.

Other rookies fared better.

Although Craig Dahl started at free safety, first-round draft pick Eric Reid entered in the first half and had a thumping hit that sent Broncos tight end Virgil Green sprawling out of bounds. He finished with six tackles. McDonald, a tight end and second-round pick had receptions that went 21 and 19 yards, and he finished with a team-high four catches for 66 yards.

Recently signed wideout Austin Collie got in at the end of the game and caught two passes for 20 yards.

The standout wide receiver may have been Osgood, who finished with three catches for 34 yards, including two receptions during a last-second drive at the end of the first half. The 10-year veteran also had two special-teams tackles.

Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320. Follow him on Twitter @mattbarrows.

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