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Peyton Manning throws touchdown as Dontae Johnson is picked by referee

The 49ers gave up an early touchdown to the Broncos thanks in part to a pick by the referee. We've got a GIF.

Jamie Squire

The San Francisco 49ers fell behind 7-0 to the Denver Broncos in the first quarter as Peyton Manning got his team on the board with a touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders appeared wide open for the touchdown catch, but that happened due to a referee pick. Sanders crossed the end zone with Dontae Johnson covering him. As they passed through the middle of the field, Johnson ran into the referee, and was unable to recover.

Picks are illegal, but when the ref is involved, they are perfectly legal, and a tool of the wide receiver's trade. This is not the first time it has happened, and it certainly will not be the last time. Speaking of Johnson, it appears he has leap-frogged Chris Cook on the cornerback depth chart. The 49ers started Perrish Cox and Tramaine Brock in their base defense, with Chris Culliver inactive with shoulder and hamstring issues. When the team moved into the nickel, Cox moved in to the slot, and Johnson moved to the outside corner spot. Cook will likely enter the game if the 49ers get into their dime.