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SANTA CLARA – Thursday’s exhibition opener provided the first clues as to who might make and miss the 49ers final cuts. Here’s a press-box evaluation from the 24-21 comeback win against the Dallas Cowboys:
1. Linebacker Reuben Foster: Besieged by legal issues this offseason, linebacker Reuben Foster was a positive presence. His best play: leaping to make a one-handed breakup of a 20-yard pass intended for speedster Tavon Austin. Foster also broke down the 49ers pregame huddle, showing he’s the same, energetic leader he was last year as a rookie.
2. Wide receiver Richie James: He capped his pro debut with a 7-yard, go-ahead touchdown catch with 18 seconds remaining. Filling in as the starting slot receiver, he ran a crossing route to nab a 9-yard pass from Garoppolo on third-and-8 on the opening series. James, a seventh-round pick from Middle Tennessee state, later had a 21-yard catch into Cowboys territory on the 49ers’ only touchdown drive before halftime.
“I just really have to give credit to Nick. That was a good ball,” James said of the touchdown. “It was in the right window. He did a really good job.”
San Francsico 49ers’ Jullian Taylor (77) sacks Dallas Cowboys quarterback Mike White (3) in the fourth quarter of their preseason NFL game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 24-21. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
3. Defensive tackle Jullian Taylor: A seventh-round pick and the last member of this year’s draft class, Taylor started at the “big end” spot, played well throughout and produced a fourth-quarter sack. “It’s refreshing,” Taylor said. “I’m taking everything in, and I’m out of words.”
1. Cornerback Jimmie Ward: Richard Sherman’s temp did not have a stellar return to cornerback, having been switched last season to free safety. Ward got beat down the sideline for a 30-yard touchdown catch by a rookie (Michael Gallup) and later gave up a third-down conversion to a proven vet (Allen Hurns). Shanahan said it looked like Ward stopped his feet expecting a different route on the touchdown.
San Francsico 49ers’ Jimmie Ward (20) tackles Dallas Cowboys’ Allen Hurns (17) in the first quarter of their NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
2. Linebacker Malcolm Smith: His long-awaited debut in a 49ers uniform lasted only six snaps. He hobbled off with a hamstring injury, adding to a medical chart that included a season-ending pectoral tear last training camp and a heel injury prior to this camp. Backups Elijah Lee and Korey Toomer didn’t fare too favorably after Smith and Foster exited.
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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports