49ers

Three things you need to know from 49ers' preseason win over Cowboys

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AP

Three things you need to know from 49ers' preseason win over Cowboys

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.

Taylor started just nine games during his injury-plagued career at Temple, so the 49ers want him to gain experience in the exhibition season to make up for all the games he missed.

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.

Watch 49ers WR Dante Pettis crush BP homers in Minute Maid Park

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USATSI

Watch 49ers WR Dante Pettis crush BP homers in Minute Maid Park

The 49ers arrived in Houston on Tuesday, where they will hold joint practices with the Texans on Wednesday and Thursday. On Sunday, the two teams will play a preseason game.

With no team activities schedule on Tuesday, rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis took full advantage of the free time. His father is Astros third base coach Gary Pettis, so the younger Pettis donned Astros gear and took batting practice at Minute Maid Park.

In video posted by Fox 26's Mark Berman, Pettis deposited a few balls into the Crawford Box.

Check out the video here:

49ers notes: Practices heat up with Texans in Houston

49ers notes: Practices heat up with Texans in Houston

The 49ers arrived Monday evening in Houston, where temperatures in the mid-90s – and more than a bit of humidity -- await the team’s two practices this week against the Texans.

After 14 practices at the team’s facility in Santa Clara, the 49ers figure to learn a lot more about their roster while facing a different opponent during two-hour practice sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

“We’re very sick of going against the same scheme every day,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It’ll be nice to go against something else, you know? Offensively and defensively, and it gives you two practices where you can go against different stuff, which prepares all your players for what they’re going to see during the year.

“And just for the monotony of camp, it’s good to change it up.”

The 49ers will be a bit short-handed for the practices. Eleven players sat out the team’s practice Monday due to injuries. Running back Joe Williams is scheduled to rejoin the team. The 49ers also plan to sign veteran running back Alfred Morris. The 49ers’ top two running backs, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida, are out for the remainder of the preseason with injuries.

The injuries across the board have impacted how the 49ers practice. Because of thinning depth, the 49ers do not have enough healthy bodies to form a full No. 3 unit.

“Once you start losing those guys, it adds a lot on another person,” Shanahan said. “Once you see a guy having to take reps with the twos and with the threes, it’s just a matter of time before that guy gets hurt. Those are the things you’ve got to pay attention to. You can get away with it for a little bit and you know you’re going to put a lot on a guy, but eventually once you see it’s too much you’ve got to stop the drill and just move on. It’s not worth it.”

After two practices against the Texans, the 49ers will have a day off on Friday before facing Houston on Saturday in the second preseason game for both teams.

McGlinchey Readies for Work vs. Watt

After being satisfied with his performance during his 23 snaps in the exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys, 49ers rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey is bracing for what figures to be his best learning experience since being the No. 9 overall draft pick.

McGlinchey is likely to go up against Texans perennial All-Pro defensive lineman J.J. Watt in two practices. The reports out of Houston is that Watts has looked close to his former self after two injury-plagued seasons. He did not play in the Texans’ exhibition opener, though. McGlinchey could see practice time against Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

“It’s definitely going to be fun,” McGlinchey said. “It’s why you play in the NFL, to play against the biggest and baddest dudes.”

Morris Steps in to Compete

Part of the reason the 49ers are bringing in Morris to join the team is because he already is familiar with Shanahan’s system. But Morris will also get an opportunity to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster. Morris spent two seasons with Shanahan in Washington, and Shanahan said he should have no problem picking up the 49ers playbook.

“There’s not big changes and it’s not that tough for a back,” Shanahan said. “They’ve got to set their track the right way and you hand it off to them and go run. We have a way that we coach guys and stuff, but everyone, when you’re away from something, it’s going to take some time. He is going to be rusty with that stuff, but he’ll get the hang of it.”

Undrafted rookie OL Alan Knott was waived to make room for Morris. 

This ‘N’ That

Shanahan bristled when asked if the injuries of training camp could have been avoided. “Soft tissue injuries, yeah, they can be prevented by having them not doing anything and sit there and just not get hurt and then it will happen in Week 1,” Shanahan said. “It’s just part of it. I think we are pretty smart with what we do. There’s a fine line, a very fine line. If a player is complaining about being tight, we can sit there and shut him down and then every single person who ever complains about being tight, you can shut down and then ask a group of 90 people in training camp to raise their hands on who’s tight. Ninety people will raise their hand.” . . . McKinnon grabbed behind his right knee after sustaining an injury in practice on Sunday. The fears were alleviated when an MRI revealed a calf strain, which will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the exhibition season. “No one realizes your calf goes that high,” Shanahan said. “So I think he was worried about it just where it was and then once he got the assurance that it was his calf, it made sense that he didn’t have that much pain. I think he felt much better. But at least he feels good that he’ll be ready for Week 1.”