Richie James

49ers camp report: Richie James not impressed with preseason TD


49ers camp report: Richie James not impressed with preseason TD

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.

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


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.

Seventh-round pick Richie James flashes toughness in first 49ers practice


Seventh-round pick Richie James flashes toughness in first 49ers practice

SANTA CLARA -- Richie James lined up in the slot, and immediately found himself fighting through a jam at the snap of the ball. Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley got his hand under the back of James' helmet and the two men became tangled.

James’ helmet popped off, and as James stumbled out of his in-breaking cut, Moseley tumbled to the ground. The pass was already in the air and a helmet-less James quickly adjusted to snatch the ball out of the air in the one-on-one drill.

This is James, a seventh-round draft pick. He is tough. And he plays with determination and attitude. He said growing up in Sarasota, Florida, instilled that competitiveness within him.

“I grew up in that environment,” James said. “You got to have attitude to get out of there.

“It’s rough. I grew up in the streets of Sarasota. There’s a lot of trouble around the area. A lot of crime. But you got to make your way out. That’s why I’m here.”

James, who patterns his style after Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, set records at Middle Tennessee State with 243 catches for 3,249 yards and 23 touchdowns. He sustained two broken collarbones. The second injury cut his junior season short. He turned pro instead of returning for his senior year.

The 49ers selected wide receiver Dante Pettis in the second round of the draft. In the seventh round, James was still available with the No. 240 overall selection.

“I’m surprised I went that late,” James said. “But at the same time, I understand that’s part of it. I got injured last year and, honestly, there were a lot of red flags and teams didn’t want to take a chance.”

James made a strong first impression during the first day of the 49ers’ rookie minicamp Friday. He was the most active of all the team’s receivers, catching three passes during 7-on-7 drills and another in the team sessions.

“This is a guy who we're really fond of as a staff,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said after the 49ers selected him. “Just a fearless player and has a lot of will that shows up on tape. (He) has a little swagger to him.”

The 49ers on Saturday morning announced their first wave of draft pick signings. Each signed the mandatory four-year deals required for players who were drafted.

The 49ers signed third-round pick Tarvarius Moore, seventh-rounder Jullian Taylor and seventh-rounder James to contracts.

According to, Moore's spot in the draft dictates he will receive approxiately $3.05 million over four years with $588,000 to sign. Taylor's deal is worth $2.5 million with $73,500 to sign. And James is scheduled to receive $2.5 million over the life of his four-year deal with a signing bonus of approximately $57,000.

First-round draft pick Mike McGlinchey’s first repetition in a one-one-one pass-rush drill could not have gone much worse. Lined up against Nevada defensive end Patrick Choudja, a tryout player, McGlinchey was beaten badly off the snap with an inside move.

After his opening slip-up, McGlinchey looked good in his pass-rush sets and run blocks during the 11-on-11 drills. McGlinchey handled defensive lineman Jullian Taylor, a seventh-round pick from Temple, and Ben Sorensen, a tryout player from Sacramento State, in subsequent drills.

Defensive back D.J. Reed, a fifth-round pick from Kansas State, is an intriguing prospect who does not fit the prototypical mold of cornerbacks in the 49ers’ system.

He stands just 5-foot-9. But he has unique measurements that help him compensate for his lack of height. He has 10-inch hands and a 31 5/8-inch arm length. He played cornerback in college and ranked No. 2 in the nation in punt and kickoff returns.

Reed is playing free safety and nickel back, as well as returning kicks, during the 49ers’ minicamp.

“I definitely have opportunities to do something great,” he said. “I just have to learn what I’m doing, so I can play fast.”

It has been a crazy week for Southern Arkansas cornerback Darren Crawford. On Wednesday, he got a call from the 49ers. The next day he was on a flight to the Bay Area to participate in the minicamp as a tryout player.

What? You’ve never heard of Crawford? Perhaps, you’re familiar with the father of his mom. Hall of Fame pass-rusher Fred Dean is Crawford's grandfather. Dean’s arrival in a trade with the Chargers early in the 1981 season is widely credited with providing the 49ers with the missing piece en route to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.

Crawford was a middle-schooler and went to the induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, in 2008, when his grandfather was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He said he hears stories about his grandfather all the time.

“Your papa was a mean dude.”

“Your papa was very aggressive.”

Said Crawford, “Man, I heard a million stories, a million stories...Him telling me how he used to poke people’s eyeballs out, there’s just so many things.”

Third-round draft pick Tarvarius Moore had a flight that was late-arriving in the Bay Area, so he was held out of Friday’s workout.

He faces the additional challenge of learning a new position. He was a safety at Southern Mississippi. Now, he is learning how to play cornerback. He looks forward to learning as much as he can from veteran Richard Sherman.

“I want to know just how he sees the game,” Moore said. “He’s an intelligent player. Everybody knows that – definitely one of the greats. He sees the game different than a lot of people. Just to get that perspective how he sees the game, and maybe that helps me out.”

The 49ers did not add a running back in the draft, but that does not mean there is not a newcomer who will be in serious competion for a roster spot.

The 49ers signed North Texas running back Jeff Wilson (6-0, 194) after the draft. He averaged 6.5 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in his final collegiate season. Wilson had a nice first practice, catching passes in both 7-on-7 and team drills.

It will be difficult for any running back, however, to crack the 49ers’ top three. Jerick McKinnon was targeted in free agency as an upgrade over Carlos Hyde for Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. Matt Breida appears set as the No. 2.

Raheem Mostert is a favorite for the third running back spot based on his ability on special teams. Mostert ranked among the top special-teams players in the league last season until he sustained knee injury that did not require surgery.

Joe Williams, a fourth-round draft pick last season, was less-than impressive before he was placed on season-ending injured reserve at the start of the season with a foot injury. He might be the most physically talented of all the running backs but he must play with greater urgency, Shanahan said this offseason that Jeremy McNichols, who spent last season with the club, is also competing for a spot.

The 49ers also have two rookie tryout players who are trying to open eyes this weekend. Ja’Quan Gardner of Humboldt State is undersized (5-7, 205) but showed good balance and ability to make tacklers miss. Stacy Bedell (5-9, 195) of Stony Brook exhibited good burst through the hole and downhill speed.

Quarterback Nick Mullens, who spent all of last season on the 49ers' practice squad, joined the rookie minicamp and is getting plenty of work. Mullens and Jack Heneghan of Dartmouth are the only quarterbacks participating in the workouts.

Heneghan, the son of former 49ers high-ranking team executive Lal Heneghan, opened the eyes of the 49ers at the team's local pro day at Levi's Stadium before the draft. He was signed as an undrafted rookie. He started the past two seasons under former Stanford head coach Buddy Teevens. Heneghan completed 437 of 717 pass attempts (60.9) in his college career with 4,900 yards with 28 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

On Friday, Heneghan completed all four of his attempts during team drills with tryout receiver Frank Stephens (Northern Colorado) catching two. Fullback Connor Wentz (North Dakota State) and Gardner caught the other two. Wentz is the cousin of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

Mullens completed three of his four attempts in 11-on-11 drills, with receptions coming from James, Wilson and Steven Dunbar (Houston). 

All NFL rookies this season are allowed to join their teams' offseason workout programs without any restrictions. In the past, only players who had already graduated or whose schools had completed its spring term were allowed to report full-time for work. Now, the NFL mandates that players must be given adequate time to complete coursework during the offseason program and teams must also cover travel expenses asscociated with any finals that must be taken.

--The 49ers' rookie practice on Saturday is closed to the media.