Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports



49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne had a strong showing during San Francisco's preseason victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Clearly on the bubble, what are his chances for making the Niners' 53-man roster this season?


San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has emerged as something of a hot topic during training camp and early in the preseason.

Bourne's latest efforts -- a four-catch, 88-yard and one-touchdown performance versus the Kansas City Chiefs -- certainly help the undrafted free agent's chances to land on the 53-man roster this season. His biggest splash came on a 46-yard touchdown reception from rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard:

Support this writer and shop Amazon


That was impressive, although Bourne certainly benefited from his defender falling down on the play.

Not to be outdone, though, Bourne answered on the subsequent two-point conversion attempt, hauling in a fade pass to tie things up for San Francisco at 17:



This is important for one major reason. The overwhelming majority of Niners receivers are short, as Niner Noise's Chris Wilson pointed out last month. Bourne, 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds, offers size and a bit of physicality. Efforts like these suggest he's a red-zone threat -- something the height-challenged 49ers receiver corps could use.

So does this help him guarantee a spot on the 53-man roster?

It's still an uphill fight. Wide receivers Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson, Jeremy Kerley and Trent Taylor are all but guaranteed roster spots, barring injury or unforeseen setbacks. Assuming head coach Kyle Shanahan keeps six receivers on his roster, that leaves just one spot left for players like Bourne and a slew of others.

San Francisco's other remaining wideouts are Bourne, Victor Bolden Jr., Aaron Burbridge, DeAndre Carter, Louis Murphy and Tim Patrick.

It's important to note Burbridge was one of the 49ers' three team captains for Friday's game, and he has some value as a special teams contributor. These are two of the reasons why Niners Wire's Chris Biderman suggested Burbridge, not Bourne, is Shanahan's final selection to round out this position group.

But the good news for Bourne is this performance has pushed him up the list of dark-horse candidates to earn that final spot. If one of San Francisco's receivers goes down with an injury between now and Week 1, it seems more of a likelihood Bourne makes the cut.

Bourne would be a perfect candidate for the practice squad, but the double-edged sword here is his strong initial showing could attract the interest of other teams looking for wideout help. If the 49ers are set on their 53-man group at this position and don't see Bourne as an immediate part of their plans here, it might be wise to limit Bourne's live appearances to shadow him from other teams' prying eyes.

This isn't exactly fair to Bourne, who could still benefit from increased reps and, possibly, a chance to earn a more prominent role elsewhere.

Right now, Bourne still has to overtake someone like Burbridge to earn a spot on the regular-season roster. It wouldn't be a shock if this happens, especially if Bourne continues to have these kinds of efforts. But he's still on the outside, looking in.

Although it might not be the case for long.

Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise and 49ers Webzone and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to @PeterPanacy on Twitter.