Denver rookie Ashley Lelie made a 13-yard reception in the first quarter yesterday in Denver. The UH alumnus had five catches for 56 yards.
DENVER >> Terrell Davis got his wish to walk away on his own terms.
Davis says goodbye
to Denver, while Lelie
shines and Elam gets hurt
By John Marshall
Terrell Owens had seven catches for 123 yards as the San Francisco 49ers beat the Broncos 12-7 yesterday on the night Denver's fans said goodbye to Davis.
A fan favorite who holds or shares 56 team records, Davis walked out of the tunnel at Invesco Field at Mile High for the final time to raucous cheers from a near-capacity crowd of 69,343.
"There are so many things going through my head," said the 29-year-old Davis, who will almost certainly end his career after seven seasons. "My emotions went from sad to excited to sad again. It is what I expected. Denver is my home, and it was good to show the fans what it meant for me to be here."
Davis, who will be placed on injured reserve today due to chronically injured knees, waved to the fans and gave a "Mile High Salute", which he made famous during the Broncos' Super Bowl-winning seasons in 1997 and 1998.
Hawaii alumnus Ashley Lelie, Denver's first-round pick, was sharp.
Lelie, who started in place of injured receivers Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey, caught five passes for 56 yards. He adjusted to catch a pass thrown behind him for a 13-yard gain in the first quarter, and had a tough fingertip grab for 12 yards in the second.
Denver kicker Jason Elam, another Hawaii alum, sat out after straining his right hamstring before the game. Elam is currently negotiating for a long-term contract with the Broncos.
San Francisco's Jeff Ulbrich, playing against former teammate at UH Lelie, had two tackles.
Davis was mobbed by teammates as he took the field and shared a long embrace with tight end Shannon Sharpe as a video tribute played on the scoreboard.
"He's a great player and a great human being," San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci said. "Certainly, the Denver Broncos will miss him, but the league will miss him, too."
San Francisco held Denver to 242 total yards to win for the first time in three preseason games. The 49ers scored on four field goals, three by Jose Cortez.
Denver (1-1) moved 80 yards for a touchdown on its second drive, but crossed the 50-yard line four times the rest of the way.
"I liked the way we played in the first half," Mariucci said. "Our defense gave up one long drive and score, but other than that we played well."
Rookie Clinton Portis showed signs that he might be ready to take over for Davis.
Portis, the Broncos' second-round draft pick, had 45 yards on Denver's first scoring drive and capped it with a 1-yard dive over the right side. He had eight carries and caught a 5-yard pass during the 12-play drive.
Portis finished with 43 yards on 11 carries after getting 57 yards against Chicago last week.
"As everyone can see, he has great running skills," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. "He made a number of big plays and I was impressed with him."
Owens, coming off his second straight Pro Bowl season, showed off his playmaking abilities in the first half before sitting out the second. He made would-be tacklers miss and got a good chunk of his yardage after the catch.
Owens caught a 48-yard pass from Jeff Garcia to set up San Francisco's first score, a 27-yard field goal by Cortez in the first quarter, and zigzagged his way through Denver's defense for a 16-yard gain in the second.
"I am just trying to work on my game and definitely be more patient on my routes," Owens said. "Those are the type of things I work on in practice and I try to carry it over to the game."
Garcia played the first half after playing just two series the previous game. He was 11-of-18 for 149 yards.
Tim Rattay, who's battling Brandon Doman for the backup spot, took all the snaps in the second half and completed his final nine passes to finish 9-of-10 for 91 yards.
"I liked the competitive spirit of this team from all the players," Garcia said. "I saw a lot of improvement, and there's definitely room for improvement in a lot of areas as well."
Denver quarterback Brian Griese, who also played a half, was 8-of-13 for 73 yards and an interception. Reserves Steve Beuerlein, Jarious Jackson and Todd Husak were a combined 8-for-21 for 67 yards and an interception.
"Offensively, we had one good drive, some flashes, but it was not what I had hoped to see," Shanahan said. "In the second half, our second, third and fourth team offense was very much out of sync. We've got to step up in that area."
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