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Kyle Shanahan sees Kendrick Bourne as the team’s biggest receiver

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Maybe the 49ers don’t need to go looking for such a player in the offseason.

He’s 6’1, weighs 203 lbs, and hails from of Eastern Washington University. He has 428 yards, 37 receptions and three touchdowns for 2018.

He is San Francisco 49ers undrafted free agent wide receiver, Kendrick L. Bourne. And he’s just come off one of the best games of his career. Against the Chicago Bears, Bourne managed just four receptions for 73 yards. If Bourne can ball out on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams and manage 86 yards, he’ll double his reception yards from 2017.

With Pierre Garçon spending most of the season injured along with other hits to wide receivers like Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis, the 49ers leaned on Bourne throughout 2018. Kyle Shanahan’s unique play-calling has schemed Bourne open multiple times for easy touchdowns, helping out Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens, but Bourne has fought hard for yards otherwise. Many times he has caught the ball and taken devastating hit after hit and managed to hold on. Others, he’s managed to get the ball wrenched into his grasp and then have defenders stumbling forward in their attempts to nab him—resulting in huge gains.

While his season has been solid, some, including myself, predicted (not expected) a bit more. I had Bourne penciled in for an 800 yard season and unless the 49ers do multiple 99-yard catch and runs, that just isn’t happening. But Bourne has worked his tale off as well as endured some tough love to become nothing short of reliable. He very well could be the answer at wide receiver, maybe he just needs more time. The 49ers were definitely looking for any sort of identity after Garoppolo went down with injury, and given Pierre Garçon’s presence despite being in/out, it may have hampered Bourne’s numbers.

One of the many criticisms of the 49ers wide receiver group is the lack No. 1 receiver. A reliable pass catcher that can pluck the ball out of the sky. It’s something many fans hope the team will address in the 2019 draft. If Kyle Shanahan’s response to the media on Monday means anything, maybe the 49ers already have that guy, it’s Bourne:

“I don’t know about his height and weight, but to me, he plays like our biggest receiver. He’s a big guy out there, because of his hands and the way he attacks the ball and he’s fearless going over the middle. I know our quarterbacks really like throwing to him.”

The 49ers may part ways with Garçon this offseason, paving the way for a huge opportunity for Bourne to take the reigns of the wide receiver group. Shanahan thinks Bourne is their biggest guy currently, if Bourne is the guy, maybe his size along with that hard work can get him the 49ers first 1,000-yard wide receiver since Anquan Boldin.