SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Von Miller had some pretty good flashbacks when he arrived at Levi’s Stadium for the first time since winning the Super Bowl MVP here just over 18 months ago.
The stakes were far lower for a joint practice between his Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers than they were for that Super Bowl win over Cam Newton and Carolina in February 2016 but that didn’t stop the memories.
“Walking onto the field this morning, it’s a whole lot different,” Miller said. “It’s a lot more red than what it was last time. Before it was just gold and black and a whole bunch of white, all the Super Bowl stuff. It still had the same feel. San Francisco has always been good to me. The Bay Area has always been good to us. Throughout my whole career I’ve only lost one game here. Preseason, the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers, I’ve only lost one game here. A lot of great memories for me, as a team and as an organization.”
This week also offered Miller a chance for a reunion with mentor Elvis Dumervil, who helped teach Miller the ways of the NFL during his first two seasons as a pro in 2011-12.
The two have remained close ever since, seeing each other in the offseason and training together at times and Miller still credits Dumervil for teaching him how to be a leader and an elite pass rusher.
“I feel like he is one of my blood brothers,” Dumervil said. “He took me in when I was young and basically showed me the whole script of bringing young guys in and showing them the ropes. That’s where I learned it from. ... It’s great to get Gloom and Doom back on the same field. It’s a blessing.”
The Niners and Broncos held the first of two straight joint practices before playing an exhibition game here Saturday night. The players were on their best behavior for day one with only one skirmish coming after San Francisco rookie safety Adrian Colbert delivered a hard hit on Denver tight end Steven Scheu after a catch over the middle early in practice.
Niners general manager John Lynch and Broncos coach Vance Joseph helped break it up and San Francisco pulled Colbert for a bit to calm things down as Lynch talked to Joseph and Denver counterpart John Elway.
“Both coaches handled their teams really well,” Lynch said. “We had one little scuffle but I’ve never seen one of these joint practices where you haven’t. I thought it was very professional on both sides. Really productive work. We were thrilled with it.”
Lynch said he likes the dynamic of a joint practice, saying it heightens intensity and gives both teams the chance to work against different looks after getting so used to their own offense and defense during camp that both sides know each other’s plays.
Lynch said he’d like to do even more of these, possibly next summer, once the team has coach Kyle Shanahan’s systems completely installed.
“You’re going up with something that’s not scripted,” Lynch said. “It’s completely unscripted. You don’t know everything they’re doing. It’s true competition. It’s really as close to a game as possible.”
Competing against an unfamiliar defense was a good test for Denver second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch, who is competing with Trevor Siemian for the starting role.
Siemian started the exhibition opener last week against Chicago and Lynch will get the chance this week. Lynch also got the bulk of the work with the first-team offense in practice and had an up-and-down performance.
“It’s pretty different going against a team like them for the first time this week and seeing some looks you haven’t seen from your guys, a little different looks,” Lynch said. “You go through it and you go after practice and watch the tape of it and get a better understanding.”
NOTES: John Lynch said he believes players have the right to protest the national anthem but he doesn’t believe in it. San Francisco had several players, including former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, protest last year but everyone stood in the first exhibition game this season. “Personally when I see that, I think that’s divisive,” Lynch said. “And I understand guys see things and they’re not happy. They have that right. And I think we’ll always respect people’s rights. That doesn’t mean I believe that.” ... 49ers LB Donavin Newsom, who was hospitalized last week with a concussion from a hard hit in practice, has been waived with an injury designation and will be placed on injured reserve once he clears waivers. ... Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, a teammate of Lynch’s in Tampa Bay, attended practice.