SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- If Paxton Lynch has a chance to earn the starting job, he needs more days like he had this week.
Seemingly freed by the chance to not practice against the Broncos' stout pass defense for a chance, Lynch shone against San Francisco's defense.
Lynch didn't throw an interception in the joint practices against the 49ers while completing 25 of 37 passes over the two days in team and seven-on-seven periods -- including all 12 of his passes on Thursday.
"Very impressed," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said after Thursday's practice.
Was Thursday Lynch's best day?
"His best day? I'm not sure, but he made three or four big-time throws today," Joseph said. "He looked relaxed, and hopefully that carries over to Saturday."
Trevor Siemian still appears to have the upper hand at quarterback based on the body of work over the summer.
But with a premium placed on the work in games and against other teams, Lynch appears to have at least made the competition interesting heading into Saturday's game.
"We'd like the decision made by itself," general manager John Elway said after practice Thursday. "We've talked about that decision being made by itself."
It hasn't been, at leas not yet.
But with that nasty fire comes the risk of getting burned. Thursday morning, Watson found himself at the epicenter of a tussle between the teams that erupted after a red-zone repetition.
At the end of it, tight end Austin Traylor had to pull Watson away from the fray.
On the other field, Aqib Talib found himself in a tussle with 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garcon. Talib blocked Garcon after Justin Simmons' interception, but Garcon took exception, knocked Talib to the ground, and a fracas ensued.
The offensive line appears to have the same edge as the defense -- which is a positive development. But for a player like Watson, the fire has to be contained at times.
"We want to be smart bullies; we don't want to be idiots," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. "We don't want to get penalties that cost us big plays in the game. (Watson) is an emotional guy, but he's also a tone-setter. There is a fine line.
"Him and Bolles. Bolles is a guy with a serious edge. So we want some of that, but we want to be smart bullies, simple as that.
"We want to be aggressive, but not hurt our football team with selfish penalties. When you're fighting a guy one-on-one, and that's your battle, and you're hurting us, that's about you, and that's selfish. We don't want that."
NOTES: DE Derek Wolfe is expected back in time for the regular season after sustaining a lower-ankle injury during practice Aug. 12.
... DE Jared Crick did not travel with the Broncos to Santa Clara, Calif., for practices with the 49ers after suffering back spasms during practice on Aug. 14. ... WR Cody Latimer missed three days of practice this week because of a hamstring problem. ... WR Emmanuel Sanders left midway through practice on Wednesday because of a shoulder injury. He did not practice Thursday as a precaution. ... ILB Brandon Marshall was held out of team repetitions Thursday because of a bruised rib. ... TE A.J. Derby did not practice Thursday because of a bruised lower back that Broncos coach Vance Joseph said was "nothing serious." He could play Saturday. ... C Matt Paradis will not play against San Francisco. He is expected to start against the Green Packers on Aug. 26. ... RB Jamaal Charles will not play against the 49ers on Saturday, but is expected to make his Broncos preseason debut against Green Bay on Aug. 26. Charles worked without a knee brace during Thursday's practice. ... OL Connor McGovern has filled in for Matt Paradis at center since the offseason, but could be in the mix at right guard, a position at which he started at Missouri. Broncos coach Vance Joseph said that was a possibility, in which case Ron Leary would move back to left guard. ... S T.J. Ward has not practiced since Aug. 4 because of a hamstring injury. He did not travel with the team for practices with the 49ers, but is expected back for the regular season. ... ILB Todd Davis returned to individual and 7-on-7 work this week after missing a week because of a sprained shoulder, but has not seen any team-period work. ... WR Carlos Henderson will be out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. Henderson will be re-evaluated in the next two weeks to determine the length of his recovery. ... RB Bernard Pierce has not practiced in nearly three weeks because of a hamstring injury suffered early in training camp. ... RB Devontae Booker is expected to be out until Week 2 or 3 because of a fractured wrist. He is still listed as the second-team running back on the depth chart. ... OLB Shaquil Barrett is expected to be sidelined until October because of a hip injury. He is on the non-football injury list because the injury took place away from the Broncos' facility. ... OLB Shane Ray is expected to be sidelined until early in the regular season after tearing ligaments in his left wrist on July 28. He continues to take part in position and team meetings.