Offensive coordinator Greg Roman is looking forward to a Sunday matchup that will pit his offensive line against one of the top pass rushers from 2011, linebacker Von Miller. Miller finished last season with 11 ½ sacks and was named the defensive rookie of the year. His counterpart on the Denver defense is Elvis Dumervil, another undersized but quick pass rusher who had 9 ½ sacks last season and 17 sacks in 2010.
"They're really good, productive players," Roman said. "... They can run that hoop pretty well and trim the fat on the edge good. With the crowd noise behind them - it will be great work for us. We've got to be on our A game."
The competition between Miller and right tackle Anthony Davis will be particularly interesting. The 323-pound Davis has a decisive edge on Miller - he's listed as 6-3, 237 pounds -- in run blocking. But he's struggled in the past against quick outside pass rushers. Davis allowed 9 ½ sacks last year, according to STATS, LLC.
"I think everybody in the NFL is pretty quick," Davis said. "But I know what you mean. He's exceptionally quick."
Quarterback Alex Smith was sacked twice in the first quarter Saturday in Houston and he was hit five times. But Smith on Wednesday said only one of those hits - on which the Texans defensive tackle beat left guard Mike Iupati - was due to a pass protection breakdown.
"Other than that, the protection's been great," said Smith, who called the other hits "self-inflicted."
Anthony Dixon's spot on the 49eers' final roster is tenuous, but he got a nice dose of praise from Roman on Wednesday. Dixon entered Saturday's game in Houston after Brandon Jacobs went down with a knee injury.
He converted a fourth-and-one situation early in the second quarter but failed on another on the same drive. Roman said there was little room to maneuver on both, and that Dixon did well under the circumstances. "I thought Anthony Dixon had one of his better games since I've been here," Roman said.
Defensive players NaVorro Bowman, Chris Culliver (knee), Cam Johnson (knee) and Kourtnei Brown (hamstring) were not on hand for the start of practice. Johnson and Brown were working on a side field with the strength and conditioning staff.
Bowman, meanwhile, was seen walking around without any noticeable limp in the 49ers locker room before practice. ... Mike Person was back at practice after missing Tuesday's session.
-- Matt Barrows