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Right tackle Anthony Davis is not fighting for a roster spot. He is not fighting for a starting job, either.
Davis is entrenched as the starter, and should be ready for a breakout season. His pass protection looks better, as working in the 49ers' entire offseason conditioning program
has him in better shape and more sound with his technique than at any point in the past.
Yes, it's the exhibition season. But there's nothing inconsequential about these games for offensive linemen. Hits on the quarterback are just as dangerous -- and hurt just as much -- as they do in the regular season.
The starters are expected to play longer Sunday for the 49ers and Broncos. So that means Davis will be entrusted to block Von Miller, the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, for a long period of time. Miller recorded 11.5 sacks last season.
Miller's quickness off the snap, combined with the possibility of crowd noise that could make it difficult for the tackles to hear Smith's cadence, will provide a major challenge for Davis.
"I think everybody in the NFL is pretty quick," Davis said. "But I know what you mean. He's exceptionally quick."
Pass protection was a problem in the 49ers' exhibition game against the Houston Texans, though the offensive line was generally not to blame. Guard Mike Iupati allowed one hit on the quarterback. Running back Kendall Hunter did not pick up a blitz, and Alex Smith admitted making bad decisions that left him exposed.
Left tackle Joe Staley will be equally tested on the other side against Broncos' edge rusher Elvis Dumervil.
"With crowd noise behind them, it will be great work for us," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "It will really be good work for us. I think just the way their defense is built right now with those two players coming off the edges, it's tremendous work for us. We have to be on our 'A' game."