49ers 21

(1-1, 0-1 away)

Broncos 26

(2-0, 1-0 home)

9:00 PM ET, August 20, 2005


1 2 3 4 T
SF 0 7 7 721
DEN 10 0 7 926

Herrion, 23, collapsed and died shortly after game

DENVER (AP) -- San Francisco offensive lineman Thomas Herrion collapsed in the locker room and was rushed to the hospital Saturday night after the 49ers' 26-21 preseason loss to the Denver Broncos.

Herrion was on the field during San Francisco's frantic 14-play, 91-yard touchdown drive that ended with 2 seconds left in the game.

Shortly after the Niners entered the locker room, Herrion collapsed. Emergency workers were performing CPR on the lineman as he was being placed in an ambulance.

Coach Mike Nolan said he had no comments about the game.

"There are more important things on our mind than the game," he said.

Herrion, a first-year player with the 49ers, played college ball at Utah and spent part of last season on the Dallas and San Francisco practice squads. He played in NFL Europe earlier this year and was listed as a third-string left guard for the Niners.

Players said he collapsed just after coaches finished addressing players after the game.

"All we could do is what we know how to do, and that was stand back and let the medical staff do their job," Niners defensive lineman Marques Douglas said.

Before Herrion collapsed, the big story of the game for the Niners had been Tim Rattay's performance and the possibility that he might win the starting quarterback job from Alex Smith, the first pick of this year's draft.

For the second straight week, Rattay relieved Smith and outplayed him.

Rattay, who started nine games for the 49ers last season, went 7-for-11 for 91 yards and led them to two touchdowns, just like he did last week. He also ran a decent 2-minute drill at the end of the first half that resulted in a missed 55-yard field goal attempt.

In contrast, Smith was not sharp during his four series to start the game.

He went 2-for-7 for 22 yards and both completions were adventures: the first courtesy of a leaping, one-handed grab by Brandon Lloyd, the other resulting in Billy Bajema's departure from the game after he was met by John Lynch, who hammered Bajema with a hard, but legal, helmet-to-helmet hit.

Nolan would undoubtedly like to make Smith his starter, as the Niners start rebuilding from last year's 2-14 debacle. But so far this preseason, Smith is looking every bit like the rookie he is and Rattay, the sixth-year veteran, is moving the offense.

His first touchdown drive included only one pass, but it came against Denver's first-team defense and everything the 49ers did looked more crisp and confident than with Smith at the helm. The second touchdown was a 58-yarder to Arnaz Battle, who was wide open thanks to a blown coverage by Denver's backup secondary. It gave the Niners a 14-10 lead early in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Broncos starter Jake Plummer rolled through San Francisco's newly designed 3-4 defense to start the game, capping a five-play, 68-yard drive with Mike Anderson's 2-yard touchdown catch.

The next drive started off almost as smoothly, but the Broncos bogged down inside the 20 with two holding penalties and a botched snap. They had to settle for a field goal -- a familiar flashback to last season when Denver struggled mightily near the end zone.

"It's still an area we have to improve on," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.

Denver's special teams also were far from perfect, much like last year. Todd Sauerbrun had a punt blocked by Keith Lewis, and normally dependable Jason Elam missed field-goal attempts of 48 and 46 yards. On the plus side, Charlie Adams had punt returns of 39 and 29 yards in the second half.

"You can't do anything about the field goals, but the punt block was just one guy," Shanahan said.

Jerry Rice, playing as the No. 3 receiver, caught one pass for eight yards. The man he moved ahead of on the depth chart, Darius Watts, botched two balls in the end zone, dropping one and failing to get his second foot down inside the line on another.

Denver backup quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt finished 7-for-18 for 106 yards and led Denver to 10 points.

His highlight was a 32-yard completion to Todd Devoe, who again helped his chances by making the catch despite having a defender grabbing his left arm. Devoe, who began training camp listed ninth of nine receivers, had a 92-yard touchdown catch last week against Houston.<

Notes:@ Broncos CB Brandon Browner broke his left forearm. ... Ron Dayne led the Broncos with 87 yards rushing on 18 carries. ... Kevin Barlow had 36 yards and one score on eight carries.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


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