DENVER (AP) -- In
the week leading up to the season-opener,
Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan
plans to keep his starting running back a secret.
Terrell Davis could blow his cover.
Davis, battling Olandis Gary and
Mike Anderson for the starting job, ran for 42 yards on eight carries and
scored on a 20-yard run as the Broncos beat the San Francisco 49ers 35-7
on Friday night.
"I always expect to start," Davis
said. "That's the way I think. I just think I'm a starter. Until someone
tells me differently, that's how I'm going to think."
Davis, who has missed 24 games due
to injury since his 1998 MVP season, did not return after being treated
for a cut on his arm late in the second quarter. He needed several stitches
to close the wound but should be fine for the Sept. 10 opener against the
Anderson, last year's NFL offensive
rookie of the year, ran for 61 yards on 15 carries but hurt his cause by
fumbling at the 49ers 2-yard line in the second quarter. He also had a
fumble that led to a touchdown two weeks ago.
Gary ran nine times for 52 yards,
but most of his yardage came against San Francisco defenders who may be
on the waiver wire Sunday afternoon.
"It would be hard for me to choose,"
Denver wide receiver Rod Smith said, "but in my opinion, I know who got
us to two Super Bowls."
Davis, the MVP of the 1998 Super
Bowl, started slow but scored when he outran three San Francisco defenders
to the end zone in the second quarter. On his final run of the night, he
turned a potential 2-yard loss into a 7-yard gain down the left sideline.
"I feel quicker. My legs weren't
as heavy this week as they were last week," Davis said. "I don't think
I made too many impressive runs today, but they were better than last week.
On contact I kept my legs moving."
The 49ers, who rested many starters
on offense, had little to be excited about in their preseason finale. After
gaining 93 yards on their first two possessions, the Niners managed 62
yards the remainder of the game.
San Francisco quarterback Tim Rattay
had a particularly tough night, throwing two interceptions that were returned
for touchdowns and mishandling two snaps. He and Rick Mirer were about
even in their bid to be the top backup to starter Jeff Garcia.
"I'd like to say it felt pretty good
tonight, but we just didn't have a lot of guys," Mirer said. "Hopefully
tonight wasn't a gauge of where we're at as a team."
Rattay, who started as Garcia rested
for next week's opener, finished 6-for-12 for 57 yards. He threw a 5-yard
touchdown pass to
Kevan Barlow in the first quarter, but John Mobley returned
an interception 30 yards for a touchdown and Eric Davis had a 24-yard scoring
Mirer wasn't much better in his one
quarter, going 2-for-7 for 15 yards.
"We have to decide if we are going
to continue in that direction with an up-and-coming young quarterback in
Tim," San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci said. "We haven't decided if we
want to stay on that path or be comfortable with a proven veteran."
Gus Frerotte, the backup to Pro Bowl
quarterback Brian Griese, has no such worries. He completed his first 11
passes and finished 16-for-19 for 190 yards. Two of his incompletions came
when he spiked the ball to stop the clock at the end of the first half.
The game was officiated by a replacement
crew as the league tries to work out a contract deal with the locked-out
members of the NFL Referees Association.
There were no noticeable problems.
Alternate official Sid Rodeheffer left the game with a foot injury in the
Both teams did their best to avoid
injury in their preseason finale.
Joining Garcia on the San Francisco
sideline were about a dozen front-line players, including running back
Garrison Hearst, fullback Fred Beasley and wide receiver J.J. Stokes.
Starting linebacker Julian Peterson
left the game with a sprained left ankle and is doubtful for San Francisco's
opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Broncos were even more cautious.
Excluding Davis, no offensive starter played. Denver had no major injuries,
although wide receiver Ed McCaffrey went to the hospital because of a severe