San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has emerged as one of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's most-trusted targets. Despite being the team's leading wideout last year, there was some question surrounding his fit in what became a crowded group this season.

Bourne has racked up 318 receiving yards on 27 catches this season and has hauled in a team-leading five receiving touchdowns, including two during Sunday's 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Kyle Shanahan's faith in his third-year receiver has been paying off. The head coach was asked on Wednesday about having to "cuss out" Bourne a few times throughout the year.


"Bourne's a funny guy," Shanahan explained. "He reminds me a lot of my son, who's nine. I don't mean that as an insult ... kind of. I'm good with Bourne, so he should be alright on it.

"Bourne, when you sit there and get on him, he still sits there and smiles at you. At first, it used to drive me crazy because it's like, 'Are you not bothered by it?' He is. He's trying his hardest, he's trying to go out there, but he really loves to play football, and I think you guys can see how he plays in that, and I think sometimes that can get taken the wrong way in terms of (thinking) he's not locked in and detailed on it, and he is.

"He works at it all week. He has a lot of fun out there, which sometimes he will make some mistakes. But I also think it's kind of his gift and his curse. It's also why he's never freaking out, out there either. I mean, he is loose, and the game is not too big for him, no matter what the situation is. And sometimes I'm like, 'I'm glad he doesn't know how big this moment is because he looks as fearless as can be.'"

Shanahan went on to explain that sometimes Bourne's calm-and-collected nature forced the head coach to go above and beyond to get his message across to the receiver.

"I've only had to do it a couple of times but, usually when you do, he doesn't forget about it," Shanahan added.

Jimmy Garoppolo was the one to toss Bourne his two touchdown receptions on Sunday, and the quarterback has learned to trust his receiver to do what is needed when a play breaks down.


"KB, he finds a space, man," Garoppolo told reporters on Wednesday. "He's a good, instinctive player who, if the initial play isn't there or we're a little off-schedule, he has no problem working, puts his hands up, all those little things that you do when the play breaks down. He's phenomenal at it."

Garoppolo said Bourne may be having fun out on the football field, but on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, with the crowd noise bearing down on the players, the receiver was as locked in as anybody.

"He's a great time, great guy to be around, high energy, and it's not fake," Garoppolo added. "That's just how he is all the time, and you've got to appreciate that."