The 49’ers open their preseason schedule tonight with a matchup against the Denver Broncos. Expectations are running high this season as the 49ers look to improve on last year’s surprising 7-and-9 campaign. Head coach Mike Nolan has placed his stamp on the team, getting the players he feels can best contribute to the rebuilding process. While running back Frank Gore will miss some games with a broken hand, quarterback Alex Smith still has plenty of options to distribute the ball — wide receivers Darrell Jackson and Ashley Lelie and tight end Vernon Davis. The defense should see improvement this year with the addition of linebacker Tully Banta-Cain and cornerback Nate Clements. This is a rematch of sorts as San Francisco knocked Denver out of playoff contention with an overtime victory to close out the 2006 season. Kickoff from Monster Park is set for 5 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN.