Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

49ers WR Kendrick Bourne feeling the pressure from increased competition

Aug 3, 2019 at 9:00 AM--

The thought that a team's leading wide receiver from a season ago might not make the roster seems unthinkable. But nothing is guaranteed for San Francisco 49ers wideout Kendrick Bourne as he enters his third NFL season.

The 49ers added a lot of depth and competition to the group this offseason. Still, just two wide receivers on the roster have more than two seasons of NFL experience. One, Jordan Matthews, is a new addition. The other is Marquise Goodwin.

San Francisco drafted two receivers this year — Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd. That potentially could push Bourne down the depth chart a bit. Is this a "make or break" offseason for him? If it is, Bourne is making his case with some strong showings during recent practices.

"When I first came in (as an undrafted rookie in 2017), there was a lot of competition too," Bourne told reporters on Friday. "A lot of good guys around me. I think it's even better now. You've just got to stack the days. You put yourself in a bad spot having bad days.

"Knowing how good the room is, it kind of pushes you every day. When I go to sleep at night, I think about it. 'Okay, we've got a good group of guys, so I've got to have a good day.'

"I make sure I study up extra, and just making sure I'm on top of everything so when plays come, live like they do, I've just got to make them happen, like I've been doing."

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Bourne caught 42 passes for 487 yards with four touchdowns last season. That was enough to lead all wideouts on the roster. San Francisco was the only team last season not to have a wideout with 500-or-more receiving yards, and one of just three that did not have a receiver gain 600-or-more yards (Miami, Washington).

One thing that might help Bourne earn a spot on the 53-man roster is the on-field relationship he has with his quarterbacks.

"I've caught touchdowns from each quarterback," Bourne said. "Just having that kind of relationship with all of them, so when we're in, they see me out there, he has confidence (in me), my quarterback. So I try to have a relationship with Jimmy (Garoppolo). Nick (Mullens), and C.J. (Beathard), so once they see my number, they believe in me, and they'll maybe just come to me if they're in a pressure situation. You never know."

Bourne isn't the only young receiver who has been turning heads in practices. Tight end George Kittle on Friday said third-year wideout Trent Taylor is "cooking dudes left and right."

Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin are likely roster locks; as are rookies Samuel and Hurd. That leaves seven others, including Bourne, Matthews, and Taylor, fighting for potentially two more spots. That means players are doing everything they can to make the team.

"You can't come out here and be lazy," Bourne added. "You have to be 100 percent. You have to play through injuries, just everything. We've got a lot of guys going through little nicks and bangs right now. It's just we know what's on the line. It's like a make or break year for a lot of us."

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