ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --One of the best aspects of working with the 49ers this week is in the work the offense gets on its communication.
"You have to communicate a lot better compared to coming out here and facing [Defensive Coordinator] Wade [Phillips'] defense that's going to be the same," said RB C.J. Anderson. "It's been the same since he started coaching and that's not going to change. It's a good thing that you go through different runs and we're going to change a bunch of different things, so that's a good thing."
San Francisco's defense did a good job forcing the issue with stunts, twists and NaVorro Bowman wreaking havoc. The 49ers' ability to provide a disruptive challenge to the offense is where the Day 21 takeaways begin.
- DEALING WITH PRESSURE**
Denver's defense gives the offensive line perhaps its toughest challenge of the year on a daily basis during training camp. But the 49ers' use of stunts also forced Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch to operate under duress at times during Wednesday's practice.
"I think the stunts got us a bit," Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison said. "We'll go back and look at that. We'll make sure we're on the same page."
Pressure flushed Paxton Lynch out of the pocket on tback-to-back occasions during one team period midway through practice, but in both cases he made good decisions; they would have been moderate gains during actual game play.
"Like I did in college, if I felt the pocket break down, then I wasn't hesitant to get out on the run and try to make a play that way outside of the pocket," Lynch said. "[Head Coach Gary] Kubiak doesn't mind me getting out of the pocket and making a play as long as I keep my eyes up and make a good one. Whenever the pocket breaks down, I just trust my instincts and if it's to get out of the pocket, that's what I do."
Lynch's decision-making has steadily improved throughout the last three months, and much of that is due to his adjustment to the speed of the game.
"I know that when I first got out here, it was spinning and it was moving so fast for me," he said. "but it's getting to the point where I can hear the play call and slow it down a little bit and get in the huddle and move past some things quicker."
- KEEPING THE QB COMPETITION HEALTHY**
And by "healthy," we're not just talking about a spirited competition, but one that is also cordial, with mutual respect and support among the quarterbacks.
From all indications, that is the case.
"I thought we would be at fisticuffs," Siemian said, smiling. "No, it's an awesome group. With [Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator Greg] Knapp leading the circus, so to speak, it's been fun and I think everybody is helping each other out."
Added Sanchez: ""I think we are rooting for each other, to be honest. I think it's for people on the outside to see that. The best guy will play."
As the most experienced quarterback, Sanchez was expected to provide leadership and demonstrate how to be a professional. He did by using the example of former teammate Mark Brunell, who played with the Jets in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
"He'd give you everything he had, everything he's seen or any kind of experience he can help you with," Sanchez said. "Whether it's a high five after a big touchdown throw or just a big hug after you throw three interceptions in a game. He's there, right next to you in the locker room consoling you, cheering you on, or making sure you are getting guys fired up.
"That's the kind of leader you want to be."
Burnell helped show Sanchez how it was done. Now Sanchez is paying it forward. Whether Sanchez wins the job or not, he's made a difference in helping show Siemian and Lynch how to lead a team.
- KRIEGER-COBLE STEPS UP, BUT WILL NEED MORE STRENGTH**
Henry Krieger-Coble's pass-catching ability is among the best on the roster. His hands are soft and he has the athleticism to pluck the ball out of mid-air and make diving receptions, as he has frequently during training camp and OTAs.
So it came as no surprise that he was able to contribute extensively Wednesday after Jeff Heuerman joined Garrett Graham on the sideline. With John Phillips still getting back to full speed after missing two weeks because of an ankle injury, Krieger-Coble and Virgil Green handled the tight end repetitions, played with the first, second and third teams, and acquitted themselves well.
During a seven-on-seven period, Krieger-Coble caught consecutive passes -- one from Sanchez, one from Siemian -- by breaking into the left flat and getting enough separation to turn upfield and make a dive at the pylon.
"He is young; he's got a long way to go," Kubiak said, "but watching him compete today tells you that he's going to have a chance in this league."
But in the big picture, the undrafted rookie has plenty of work ahead of him -- much of it in the weight room. During OTAs, Kubiak said that Kriger-Coble needed to work on his raw strength in order to be more effective and more physical as a pro. This remains the case.
"He's got a long way to go from that standpoint. That's his issue right now," Kubiak said. "He's a 245[-pound] guy trying to play tight end in this league. It's hard to do.
"He's has to become more physical. He runs good routes, he's smart and he does all of those things well. He's playing well for [Special Teams Coordinator] Joe [DeCamillis], but can he get a little bigger? Can he hang on to it and become a better athlete at a later stage in his life? That's what he's working on."
- SIMMONS' VISION**
One reason Justin Simmons has been such a good fit in the dime personnel/nickel alignment sub package is his ability to diagnose the quarterback's intent and then use his straight-line speed to get into the right place at the right time.
On his interception of 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert, Simmons was responsible for the right half of the field as he was aligned. Gabbert looked downfield.
"I saw one vertical," Simmons said. "Knowing your leverage and working with the dime safety, playing off of him, made it easy to make a quick read off of the quarterback and the route to make a play off of that."
Simmons has been making plays like this since OTAs, so at this point, it's not a surprise when he turns an accurate read into a play that would be a game-changer in the regular season.
"Justin's had a really good camp," Kubiak said. "He's becoming a pro very quickly. He's very bright, so he'll be a big part of what we're doing."
The Broncos welcomed the San Francisco 49ers to UCHealth Training Center on Wednesday for the first of two joint practices.