SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Peyton Manning threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Julius Thomas and dominated in his two series, leading the Denver Broncos past the San Francisco 49ers 34-0 in an exhibition game Sunday to spoil the 49ers’ debut at $1.2 billion Levi’s Stadium.
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.
“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.”
Colin Kaepernick went 5 for 9 for 39 yards in his two series before a sellout crowd at the team’s new digs. Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes beat the Sounders in the stadium’s first sporting event Aug. 1.
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Atlanta loses Baker 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 an exhibition game.
The Falcons said the injury plagued Baker suffered a torn patellar tendon in a 32-7 loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday night.
First-round pick Jake Matthews could move from right to left tackle to replace Baker, but the injury is a huge blow to Atlanta’s efforts to bolster a line that was one of the league’s worst a year ago.
The Falcons ranked last in the league in yards rushing and quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked a career-high 44 times, in addition to being pressured 203 times, most in the NFL.
• New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees fully participated in practice for the first time since straining his left oblique muscle two weeks ago.
Brees hasn’t missed a start due to injury since coming to New Orleans in 2006 and says he plans on playing against Indianapolis on Saturday night in the Saints’ third exhibition game.
• Cam Newton made a successful return following ankle surgery, Jonathan Stewart ran for two touchdowns and the host Carolina Panthers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 28-16.
Newton completed 4 of 9 passes for 65 yards and led a pair of touchdown drives in the exhibition game before exiting late in the second quarter with Carolina (1-1) up 14-6.
Stewart, the former star from Timberline High in Lacey who played at Oregon, 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.