San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has improved each season, and 2019 was his most efficient season yet. As a rookie, Bourne caught 47% of his passes and had 12 first downs on 34 targets. Last season, Bourne caught 68% of his passes, and had 23 first downs, including five touchdowns, on 44 targets.
Bourne improved his yards after catch by over a half yard, and, despite many focusing on a few drops, improved his drop percentage by nearly a full percentage point as well. You want to see growth from a young wideout, and that’s what we’ve seen with Bourne, who entered training camp as a bubble receiver. In August, we had discussions on whether or not Kendrick would make the roster. Bourne finished the season fourth in red-zone targets.
Age: 24 (turns 25 on August 4)
Experience: Three accrued seasons
Bourne signed his one year tender for $2.1 million on April 6. His cap number will be $3.2 million. The 49ers can release Bourne and save his cap number with zero dead money, though nobody expects that to happen. Bourne is signed through 2020 and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
Why he might regress in 2020
Opportunity. There are a lot of mouths to feed in the 49ers offense, and that means fewer touches for Bourne. Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd, Jerick McKinnon will return this season. Dante Pettis and Jauan Jennings aren’t going down with a fight, either. That’s six players fighting for touches that either didn’t or rarely saw the field last season.
Have we seen Bourne’s ceiling? Is 2019 the best version of Bourne? How much better can he be? Those are questions I ask as the receivers listed above all projects to have a higher ceiling than Bourne, and that could lead to more targets for them. There will be competition, unlike any other position at wide receiver for San Francisco. Bourne has the trust of the coaches and much-needed experience he gained down the stretch last season, but will that be enough to fend off his teammates?
Why he might improve in 2020
Bourne teased on his Instagram that he was shedding weight and would be even quicker in 2020. Confidence goes a long way with a player, and now that Kendrick has “been there,” I can see his game going to another level in 2020. Learning from Emmanuel Sanders and how to prepare, practice, and watch film helps. Knowing your coaches and teammates believe in you also makes a difference.
Bourne has always been the most confident receiver on the roster, at least last year, in terms of going over the middle and hanging on no matter how many bodies are around him. Bourne being able to thrive in contested situations or high-pressure third down and red zone situations could allow more opportunities as he doesn’t have to prove himself.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Bourne were the third leading receiver on the roster. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bourne were phased out of the offense if everyone was healthy. I have no idea what to expect, and that’s what makes the 49ers wide receiver battles so intriguing.