SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers turned their hyped Levi’s Stadium debut into a real dud. So bad, in fact, tens of thousands of fans left the snazzy new Silicon Valley digs midway through the third quarter.
Colin Kaepernick was thoroughly outshined by 38-year-old Peyton Manning in Denver’s 34-0 rout Sunday, with the San Francisco quarterback going 5 for 9 for 39 yards in his two series.
The 49ers turned the ball over four times and gave up big plays on defense.
“We’re off. It’s that kind of off right now. It’s a little, it’s correctable, but it shows up,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “That’s football, it punishes mistakes. It rewards execution and precision. That’s where we’re off right now. We’re not a precise team.”
Manning threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Julius Thomas and dominated in his two series to spoil the NFL debut at sparkling $1.2 billion Levi’s Stadium.
Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes beat the Seattle Sounders in the stadium’s first sporting event Aug. 2.
“It’s been a good start. That’s all it is, though,” Manning said. “We’ve still got some things we have to improve on.”
The 38-year-old Manning, beginning his 17th season after throwing for an NFL-record 55 touchdowns last year, completed 12 of 14 passes for 102 yards and a 120.8 rating. He was 8 for 8 on Denver’s second drive, then backup Brock Osweiler took over and threw for a score and led another touchdown drive in a preseason matchup of the past two Super Bowl losers.
Demaryius Thomas had three of his five catches on Denver’s opening drive, including a 20-yard gain. That gives Thomas 10 receptions for 89 yards in Denver’s two victories against the NFC West’s powerhouses, the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco.
“He’s Peyton Manning. I don’t know if there’s anything more to say beyond that,” San Francisco safety Eric Reid said.
C.J. Anderson ran for a 1-yard TD, while Matt Prater kicked a 26-yard field goal and Mitch Ewald added a late 22-yarder. San Francisco’s typically spot-on Phil Dawson sailed two long kicks wide right.
Panthers 28, Chiefs 16
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton made a successful return following ankle surgery, Jonathan Stewart ran for two touchdowns and Carolina beat Kansas City.
Newton completed 4 of 9 passes for 65 yards and led a pair of touchdown drives before exiting late in the second quarter with Carolina (1-1) up 14-6.
Stewart ran for 26 yards on four carries and made a strong case to be the Panthers’ goal-line back — if not their primary ball carrier — with scoring runs of 3 and 2 yards.
Falcons LT Baker out for year
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons’ revamped offensive line took a major setback when left tackle Sam Baker was ruled out for the year after injuring his right knee in a preseason game.
The Falcons announced Sunday that the injury plagued Baker sustained a torn patellar tendon in a 32-7 loss to the Houston Texans.
First-round pick Jake Matthews could move from right to left tackle to replace Baker, but the injury is a major setback to Atlanta’s efforts to bolster a line that was one of the league’s worst a year ago.
By wire sources