Shane Ray has just one request for the 49ers offensive line for Thursday’s practice and Saturday’s game:

“I want their [offensive line] to try and bury me every play,” Ray said after practice Wednesday. “Because that’s how I’m going to get better.”

If Wednesday’s practice was any indication, then Ray and the Broncos defense is indeed getting better – hard as that may be to believe.

The first of two joint practices between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers went mostly as expected — there were scuffles between players, each team tested out a few quarterbacks and the defenses held the offenses in check.

While the Broncos’ defense absolutely shut down the 49ers’ offense, as expected, the Broncos’ offense was a bit of a different story. Outside of a few long touchdown passes from Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian, the Broncos’ offense couldn’t put much together against the 49ers defense.

The root of the offense’s struggles was once again the offensive line. Too many times the quarterbacks had very little time before the pocket collapsed around them, forcing them to scramble.

“They are some things that [the offensive line] can do better technique-wise,” offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said after practice Wednesday. “The stunts got us a bit. We will go back and look at that and make sure we are on the same page.”

Dennison added that it wasn’t of major concern because the offensive line still has three preseason games to gel. He praised the 49ers’ front seven saying, “they have tremendous size and talent up front.”

Even though the Broncos offense had its struggles, it looked tremendous compared to the 49ers offense up against the Broncos defense.

“Defensively, we did very well today,” Ray said.

Using the words “very well” to describe the Broncos defensive performance on Wednesday may have even been an understatement. Not only was there consistent pressure in the backfield on both run and pass plays, but when the 49ers quarterbacks decided to throw the ball it seemed to end up in the hands of Broncos players more often than 49ers players.

A key piece of the dominance in the secondary was rookie safety Justin Simmons.

“We made some plays on the ball…Justin’s had a really good camp, he’s becoming a pro very quickly, (he’s) very bright,” head coach Gary Kubiak said after practice. “He’s a big part of what we are doing.”

It seems like a daily occurrence that Simmons is receiving praise, whether it is from Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips or an assortment of his teammates.

Although Simmons had a great day, the player that stood out the most, in terms of positive comments from coaches on the sideline, was Ray. On Wednesday he was constantly plugging up holes to stop a run play or in the quarterback’s face applying pressure.

“I’m finally coming into my own as a player and showing my team what I can do and I want to continue to do that. It feels good to have my coaches believe in me and trust that I can do what they need me to do,” Ray said.

While some players do not like practicing against another team, Ray enjoys going up against the best possible players — whether or not they are on the Broncos.

“Going against [Broncos T] Russell Okung in the run — I don’t think there is anybody better than him in that aspect. Playing against a good tackle like him prepares me for tackles like [San Francisco T Joe) Staley] — [an] All Pro, Pro Bowl [player],” Ray said. “I was excited to come out here and go against him today … I feel like I did a good job.”

It’s hard to imagine the defense getting any better than it was last year; however, if Wednesday’s practice was any indication, it’s on its way.