SANTA CLARA — Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 24-21 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night in the preseason opener for both clubs at Levi’s Stadium:
James is a Keeper
If the 49ers thought they could hide wide receiver Richie James in order to keep him on the practice squad, he did a good job of showing the rest of the league he can play at this level. Now, it seems as if it might not be a gamble worth taking for the 49ers to waive him, in hopes no other team will claim him.
James, a seventh-round draft pick from Middle Tennessee State, saw action on the third play of the game as he entered as the 49ers’ No. 1 slot receiver. James was in that role with Trent Taylor being held out of the game as he rounds into shape after offseason surgery to remove bone spurs in his lower back.
James caught four passes for 46 yards, including 7-yard touchdown from third-string quarterback Nick Mullens with :18 remaining for the winning points.
Taylor Gains Valuable Experience
The door is open for rookie defensive end Jullian Taylor to make an impact for the 49ers with Arik Armstead expected to miss approximately a month with a hamstring injury. Taylor started and played most of the game.
“I saw him make a bunch of plays,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “He did a good job for us in camp, and it looks like he showed up tonight. I look forward to seeing him on film when we get in there.”
Taylor recorded three tackles, including a fourth-quarter sack of Cowboys quarterback Mike White in the fourth quarter. He had two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss.
Competition for Backup RB Jobs
Jerick McKinnon, the highest-paid running back from the free-agent class, is the clear 49ers starter. And Matt Breida, who is expected to miss some time with a shoulder injury, is the No. 2 guy.
The 49ers on Thursday showed they have three capable reserves who are battling for the No. 3 job. Joe Williams gained just 27 yards on 11 carries, but he has put himself in position to win a job based on his better work ethic from a year ago.
Raheem Mostert is one of the 49ers’ top special-teams players. He gained 57 yards on eight rushing attempts but also lost a fumble.
“I thought they ran hard,” Shanahan said of Williams and Mostert. “I don’t think we gave them a ton of spacetoday. The times that we did have space, I thought they made some good runs.”
And Jeremy McNichols, a fifth-round pick last year of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had three carries for 15 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
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