SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Even Peyton Manning realizes he’s ready for the regular season. Or at least darn close.
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 on Sunday to spoil the NFL debut at $1.2 billion Levi’s Stadium.
“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.”
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.
Colin Kaepernick was 5-of-9 for 39 yards in his two series before a sellout crowd at the team’s flashy new digs in Silicon Valley. Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes beat the Seattle Sounders in the stadium’s first sporting event Aug. 1.
Demaryius Thomas had three catches on Denver’s opening drive, including a 20-yard gain.
Denver linebacker Lamin Barrow, the former LSU standout, limped off early in the second half with a lower leg injury.
Panthers 28, Chiefs 16: In Charlotte, North Carolina. Cam Newton made a successful return following ankle surgery, Jonathan Stewart ran for two touchdowns and Carolina beat Kansas City.
Newton was 4-of-9 for 65 yards and led a pair of touchdown drives before exiting late in the second quarter with Carolina up 14-6.
Stewart 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.
Alex Smith was 14-of-22 for 127 yards for Kansas City. Rookie Aaron Murray’s first NFL pass resulted in a 43-yard touchdown strike.