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Richie James gives 49ers first kickoff return touchdown since 2011

SANTA CLARA — For the first time in six years, the 49ers returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

On Sunday against Seattle, it came courtesy of rookie Richie James. The Seahawks had just scored a touchdown, then missed the extra point, to take the early lead, 6-0. James took the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Robbie Gould’s successful PAT gave the 49ers the early 7-6 lead.

James, a seventh-round pick out of Middle Tennessee State, has taken the majority of returns this season. He had a 22.9 yards-per-return average entering Sunday. Fellow rookie D.J. Reed nearly took a kickoff for a touchdown in Week 2, but it was nullified due to a facemask penalty.

The 49ers are now just the fourth team with a kickoff return for a touchdown this season. James’ touchdown return was the first since Ted Ginn took one back in Week 1 of the 2011 season against Seattle, which was Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers debut.


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