DENVER -- The 49ers' defense did not necessarily look like the 49ers' defense on Sunday.
All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman (knee) and outside linebacker Aldon Smith (hip) took part in warmups but did not suit up for the game. And third cornerback Chris Culliver (knee) did not make the trip.And the 49ers defenders who did take part did not exactly form a formidable obstacle for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Manning threw for 122 yards and two touchdowns to bury the 49ers, 17-0, in the first quarter.The 49ers' reserves scratched back against the Broncos' reserves for a 29-24 exhibition victory on Sunday."It is a concern, but I wouldn't be too concerned with it," 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks said. "We have some guys out right now in the preseason. If we can just game play for the offense, we will do better on the defensive side of the ball."It's been a scary start to this point."Manning threw two touchdown passes to Eric Decker. One of 10 yards (against the coverage of Carlos Rogers) and one of five yards (against Tramaine Brock). Brock struggled as the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback.The 49ers, as they've done this exhibition season, played a vanilla defense. In three games, the 49ers have yet to get a sack from a projected starter."There was some spotty play and we gave up some easy yardage and found ourselves, for whatever reason, not in good football position when it came time to make a tackle or a break-up," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "So, fundamental-type things that we need to look at."After leading the Broncos to 17 points in three series, Manning was removed from the game."The offense was excited to move the ball," Manning said. "I thought we had some rhythm. We huddled today, yet we still played at an up-tempo pace of getting in and out of the huddle."On the second play after Manning was removed, 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox, playing with the number two 49ers defense, intercepted backup quarterback Caleb Hanie.Cox played the 2010 season with the Broncos. The team released him a year ago as he faced charges of sexual assault. Shortly after Cox was acquitted, the 49ers signed him this offseason."It was great seeing the guys I used to play with," Cox said. "At the same time, I was really focused on football. The victory is what I wanted. Overall, it was a great trip. The players, my brothers, they're the same people I talk to on a day-to-day basis."Cox, seemingly, has surpassed Brock on the 49ers' depth chart. Culliver spent most of last season as the third cornerback behind starters Rogers and Tarell Brown. Cox missed last week's game at Houston with a hamstring strain.Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio recently said he expects to find a role for Cox.But when asked what role he envisions for himself, Cox could not even guess."I have no clue at all," he said. "My whole thought process is just to keep ballin'. I can only control what I can control. The rest is in my coaches' hands."
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