Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports


49ers’ WR Kendrick Bourne is Ready for Prime Time

Gilbert Brink
Aug 18, 2020 at 10:55 AM


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Nothing about WR Kendrick Bourne stands out, yet he always makes a big impression. Compared to most NFL receivers, Bourne isn't fast, big, tall or incredibly athletic. Coming out of Eastern Washington in 2017, Bourne was one of the first WRs 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan (a former WR himself) added to rebuild his moribund receiving corps. Shanahan liked Bourne, but not enough to lobby to draft the young WR. No, like many other 49ers starters, Kendrick Bourne went undrafted. Passed over 253 times, and yet here is Bourne, a presumed starting WR for the defending NFC champions.

The role that Bourne plays on this team is more important than ever before. So far this offseason, the 49ers have suffered 3 injuries to wide receivers: WR1 Deebo Samuel is out with a lisfranc foot injury, 2nd year hopeful Jalend Hurd is gone for the year with a torn ACL and starting KR/PR Richie James Jr. is on the shelf with a wrist injury. These absences have led the 49ers to signing veteran WRs Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson, while taking a hard look at Jaron Brown as well. The new additions may just be camp bodies, but the team's need for production at wide receiver is apparent.

Enter the man who has been there all along. Though Bourne has never amassed more than 468 yards in a season, he was the team's leading wide receiver in 2018 while starting only 8 games. In 2019, Bourne only recorded 358 yards, but he seemed to make every single one of them count. When the 49ers threw the ball his way within the 10-yard line, Bourne was a perfect 5 receptions on 5 targets for 5 touchdowns. Whenever QB Jimmy Garoppolo needed to find a receiver open in a tight space, he turned Bourne's way. Let's not forget the playoffs either. Garoppolo only threw one touchdown to a wide receiver during the 49ers' 3-game playoff run. That receiver was, of course, Kendrick Bourne, and it was in the red zone.

Turning the page to 2020, during a quiet offseason Bourne has lit up social media timelines with his incessant work effort, posting a myriad of workouts that show a young man only looking to get better.


The effective Bourne now has the greatest opportunity of his career to prove his worth. Bourne is working on a one-year tender and will become an unrestricted free-agent in 2021. Just three days into training camp's football activities and Bourne is receiving praise for his efforts. An often critical Kyle Shanahan said of Bourne in a recent interview, "Bourne has gotten better each year. He knows the offense real well...you watch Bourne, he might not have had as many catches and stuff but just his consistent play over last year, I thought he was one of our best guys if not our best. [of 2019]." That is big praise coming from the man who runs the show.

Bourne, whose elaborate dance celebrations and general jovial demeanor don't portray a hardened vet, has become just that. Out of all the 49ers receivers, Bourne is the elder statesman. Not just in age, but in experience on the field. Heading into his 4th season, Bourne is tied with fellow 2017 class member WR Trent Taylor for longest tenured 49ers receivers. Though they both have been part of the team for the same amount of time, Bourne has appeared in 43 games compared to Taylor's 29. The student has become the teacher. "He's almost the vet in the room right now, which is somewhat funny to us, because four years ago he wasn't close to that...It's been pretty cool to watch how he's come this far, and we're just getting started at camp, but know some of the guys look up to him," said Kyle Shanahan after Monday's practice.

The veteran presence and big play reliability is exactly what QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be looking for when the 49ers take the field in 26 days. Even though Bourne has only caught 88 passes in his NFL career, 65 of them have been for first downs and 9 have been for touchdowns. I'm not a mathematician, but 74 out of 88 catches equates to a first down or a touchdown 84% of the time Bourne catches the ball. That certainly stands out, and in 2020 I have a feeling Bourne will continue to make a big impression.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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