Niners Live is on to the next one and this time we’re here to highlight another undrafted rising star that came on strong towards the end of the season. We recently took a look back on Running Back Matt Breida’s impact on the 49ers’ offense, now let’s turn our attention to Wide Receivers in Don’t sleep on Kendrick Bourne in 2018.
How we got here
After being passed over in the 2017 NFL draft due mostly to a sub-par 4.68 40 time, the 6’1 and 203 lb, Kendrick Bourne was given an opportunity to sign as an undrafted free agent for three years for $1.6 million (per Overthecap.com) with the San Francisco 49ers. During his career at Eastern Washington University, Bourne was a three-time All-Big Sky Conference selection earning second team, all-league honors in 2015 and 2016 as he and fellow teammate Cooper Kupp, now of the Los Angeles Rams, were the top receiving duo in FCS history.
“I was definitely feeling like I could have gotten drafted,” Bourne said. “I ran slow, which hurt my cause. I feel like I’m up to par with Cooper Kupp” (via the team’s website).
Kendrick Was Bourne for This
Bourne used the disappointment of not being drafted as fuel for his fire, and immediately made the most of his opportunities in training camp by displaying his excellent ball-tracking and physicality and proving that he could be a threat downfield, as shown in the video here.
Bourne’s hard work and tenacity eventually paid off, earning him a spot on the 53-man roster. However, his chance to shine came after an injury that confined starting Wide Receiver Pierre Garcon to injured reserve. In week nine against the Arizona Cardinals, Bourne recorded his first two receptions of the year for 39 yards on six targets.
In week 15 against the Tennessee Titans Bourne really came out of his shell, exemplifying his quickness and above average skill to gain yards after the catch, capping off his four reception 85-yard performance with a 54-yard catch and run late in the game that led to a go-ahead field goal. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan made sure to point out how critical Bourne’s play was during the press conference following the game.
Bourne’s great hands and ability to make tough catches in traffic were evident down the stretch as he became one of the go-to guys when the Forty-Niners needed a big play. In week 16 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bourne made another timely reception that kept the 49ers’ drive alive and allowed the offense to seal another victory on their way to five straight.
2017 stats at a glance: Although his 16 receptions on 35 targets for 257 yards may be nothing to write home about, his 16.1 yards per catch average ranked second on the team behind only Marquise Goodwin’s 17.2. Not to mention, 12 of Bourne’s 16 catches accounted for first downs (via ESPN.com).
Don’t sleep on Kendrick Bourne in 2018
It will be interesting to see what different chess moves the Forty-Niners’ front office decides to make during the off-season. With the return of veteran Pierre Garcon from injury, will Bourne get his rightful opportunity to shine next season? Towards the end of the season it appeared as if Bourne was starting to build some chemistry with new prize signal caller Jimmy Garoppolo, and if given more time and opportunity, they could team up to be a dynamic duo to build around in the coming years.
Recent article alerts on Niners Live: Don’t underestimate the impact of Pierre Garcon in 2018.
While it seems likely the powers that be will look to add some depth at the Wide receiver position, it’s clear that they have a player in Kendrick Bourne who has the talent and ability to be a big-time difference maker sooner, rather than later. So, as we always say here at Niners Live, keep your eyes wide open and don’t sleep on Kendrick Bourne in 2018.
Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course. Often imitated, but never duplicated.
All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Irvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author , Content Creator, Editor Sequoia Sims.