The NFC champion Niners? They looked sloppy in all phases in 10-6 loss Thursday night.
"You have four turnovers and you win every time," said safety Mike Adams, who contributed a timely interception. "That's what you want to do. As a defense, you want to set the tone, and give the offense a boost. When you get turnovers like that, that's the way it's going to go for you."
Shaun Phillips scooped up D.J. Harper's second-quarter fumble and returned it 9 yards for the game's lone touchdown. Adams read Colt McCoy's eyes, and jumped in the passing lane for the interception as the Broncos began anew following that stunning double-overtime loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens back in January's AFC divisional playoffs.
Executive John Elway has vowed the playoff disappointment will fuel his team.
This truly was a typical preseason opener for what many consider the best two teams in the NFL; San Francisco and Denver are 1-2 in the AP Pro32 NFL power rankings.
Now, everybody realizes that if they were to play a meaningful matchup it could really be something.
"Offensively, we have work to do," Harbaugh said. "Turning the ball over four times, it's pretty hard to win a game when you're doing that."
The 49ers kicked off their "Farewell to Candlestick" season before they move into their new stadium next to team headquarters in Santa Clara in 2014. Fittingly for nostalgia's sake, sprinkled among those suddenly top-selling No. 7 Kaepernick jerseys were some tributes to the old-school favorites: Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott.
Jenkins faces high expectations after the first-round pick went without a catch in his highly scrutinized rookie season. The 49ers are depending on him to produce while top 2012 wideout Michael Crabtree spends much of the season recovering from surgery on his torn Achilles' tendon, and Mario Manningham works back from knee surgery.
A pass by McCoy intended for Jenkins late in the first half was well overthrown and strong safety Adams easily grabbed the interception against his former team.
"We created a lot of turnovers last year, and it's another good start from that standpoint tonight," Manning said. "Different guys, young players, making huge plays. As an offense, you always like to see the defense out there, creating turnovers. Usually that's going to mean really good field position."
NOTES: The referee and other officials tested headsets for a possible future communication system that would improve the flow of information between officials. ... Former San Francisco RB Roger Craig served as honorary captain as the 49ers began a top-10 countdown of Candlestick moments. ... New Broncos WR Wes Welker was targeted once during Denver's opening series. ... McCoy injured his right, throwing shoulder and will have an MRI exam Friday. Teammates S Bubba Ventrone hurt a hamstring and LB Nick Moody injured his knee.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press