SANTA CLARA – Rookie wide receiver Richie James caught the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of the 49ers’ exhibition opener on Thursday night.

When he and the rest of his teammates returned to work on Sunday, his touchdown grab from No. 3 quarterback Nick Mullens – the key play in the 49ers’ 24-21 come-from-behind victory over the Dallas Cowboys -- was a distant memory.

There are more important things ahead of him, such as continuing to place himself in position to make the 53-man roster and, perhaps, make a contribution to the 49ers during the regular season.

“I’ve made plays my whole life, whether it’s college or high school level,” said James, a seventh-round pick from Middle Tennessee State. “You can’t really get too high off one play when you have a whole season ahead of you.

“If that was the Super Bowl, wow, I’m celebrating right now. You know what I’m saying? But that was just the preseason.”

James continued his strong camp with a good day on Sunday, catching three passes from backup quarterback C.J. Beathard during 11-on-11 drills.

Garnett, Sherman Back in Uniform

Guard Joshua Garnett and cornerback Richard Sherman were back at practice on Sunday, but only in a limited fashion. Both players took part in individual drills before watching their teammates take over during the 11-on-11 sessions.

Garnett has been out since banging knees with a teammate during practice on July 28. Sherman sustained a Grade 1 hamstring strain on Aug. 3. It appears unlikely either player will be available for the 49ers’ next preseason game on Saturday at the Houston Texans.


Linebacker Brock Coyle (hip) returned to practice and participated in all drills.

Offense Play of the Day

Veteran receiver Aldrick Robinson, who is in a fight to land a roster spot this summer, beat right cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon on a deep route. Jimmy Garoppolo’s pass hit Robinson in stride. If Robinson had not stepped out of bounds at the 25-yard line, it would have gone for a 67-yard touchdown reception during a move-the-chains period.

Defensive Play of the Day

Cornerback Jimmie Ward, who struggled on a deep ball against the Cowboys in the preseason opener, demonstrated his quickness on Garoppolo’s 25-yard pass to Pierre Garçon at the sideline to break up the throw. Ward continues to fill in for Sherman.

Honorable mention goes to Witherspoon for breaking up Garoppolo’s 13-yard pass intended for Garçon in the back left cornerback of the end zone.

Up-and-Down Day for RBs

After Jerick McKinnon was sidelined early in the practice with a right knee injury, the 49ers were without three of their top four running backs. Matt Breida is out for the remainder of training camp with a shoulder separation. And Joe Williams was excused to attend the funeral of a family member. The reserves got a lot of action with mixed results. Raheem Mostert, Jeremy McNichols and Jeff Wilson shared all the snaps in the backfield. Mostert failed to hold onto two catchable passes from Garoppolo during a three-play stretch. He also showed great burst through the right side of the line for a 20-yard gain later in practice. Williams got stripped by Emmanuel Moseley after an apparent reception, He also fumbled.

This ‘n’ That

Mike Person continued to take snaps at right guard with the first-team offense. Jonathan Cooper worked with the second unit. . . Second-year player Pita Taumoepenu saw some first-team practice reps at the strong-side linebacker position with Eli Harold taking part only in individual work due to a knee contusion sustained in the exhibition opener. . . Solomon Thomas and Garry Gilliam, both of whom are in the NFL’s return to play protocol after sustaining concussions Thursday, watched from the practice field. . . Marquise Goodwin had another strong day with three receptions from Garoppolo. . . Garçon and Trent Taylor also caught three passes from the 49ers’ No. 1 quarterback. Taylor caught a 7-yard TD pass against Reuben Foster. . . D.J. Reed intercepted a Beathard pass intended for Victor Bolden. Fullback Malcolm Johnson brought down Reed with a tackle on his return. . . Tight end Ross Dwelley caught a 2-yard TD pass from Beathard. . . Adrian Colbert picked off a Garoppolo pass intended for Mostert. . . Linebacker Elijah Lee intercepted a Nick Mullens pass that was deflected.