49ers’ 2019 ‘Who Is?’ series: Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 09: Kendrick Bourne #84 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on between plays during the game against the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 09: Kendrick Bourne #84 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on between plays during the game against the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Niner Noise takes a look at the San Francisco 49ers’ leading wide receiver from 2018, Kendrick Bourne, and breaks down what he’ll have to do to make the roster this year.

On one hand, being the San Francisco 49ers‘ top wide receiver, statistically, should put you in a good position to make the 53-man roster the following year.

On the other, getting just 487 receiving yards in a season doesn’t exactly guarantee a shoo-in.

This is the case for third-year wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, who led all Niners wideouts in receiving yards last season — a year in which no Niners wide receiver reached 500 yards total.

Fortunately, Bourne’s four touchdown grabs in 2018 were tied for third on the offense, and he’s emerged as something of a red-zone threat. But for a San Francisco offense, which finished last year dead last in red-zone touchdown efficiency, that might not be saying much, either.

Kendrick Bourne Receiving Table

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/13/2019.

With the 49ers making numerous additions to their wide receiver corps during the offseason, Bourne is far from guaranteed a spot on the 53-man roster heading into 2019.

Showing some improvement in training camp and the preseason will help that goal. So, what will Bourne need to do to solidify a roster spot this season?

Why Kendrick Bourne Improves in 2019

The 6-foot-1, 203-pound undrafted free agent out of Eastern Washington is a classic example of a post-NFL Draft find from San Francisco. While he flashed some halfway decent moments his rookie year, 2018 proved he could be a reliable pass-catching option for the array of quarterbacks the 49ers were forced to field last season.

Bourne has already shown the ability to be a red-zone threat. To improve, he’ll need to showcase a more-rounded ability. And it seems as if he managed to do so over the later stretch of 2018.

Over Bourne’s final nine games last year, eight of which he started, he averaged a solid 40.8 yards per game. Those are good enough numbers for a No. 2 or No. 3 wide receiver. And if he can further develop a rapport with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, numbers could be even better.

Why Kendrick Bourne Regresses

Despite flashing some promise last year, Bourne does have a decent amount of concerns heading into this season.

Firstly, Bourne never truly developed that rapport with Garoppolo early in 2018, being targeted just four times and netting just 31 total yards in the three games before Garoppolo’s season-ending ACL injury. Should that trend continue, Bourne could easily find himself on the fringes.

Additionally, Bourne led all 49ers wide receivers with five dropped passes a year ago. While he also led the Niners wideouts with 66 targets, those drops remain a bit concerning heading into year three of his pro career.

If Bourne continues to have issues with dropped passes in camp, other receivers will likely benefit.

Chances of Making the 49ers’ 53-Man Roster in 2019

San Francisco inked veteran free-agent wide receiver Jordan Matthews during the offseason, and he figures to be one of Bourne’s primary competitors leading up to Week 1. Additionally, 2019 NFL Draft pickups, Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, could also take away snaps and reps during training camp.

Samuel and Hurd are safe aboard the roster, barring injury or a complete meltdown in camp, meaning Bourne is essentially competing for a No. 4 or No. 5 spot on the depth chart alongside Matthews and, to a lesser extent, Marquise Goodwin. Yet Matthews seems to be Bourne’s primary competition.

The good news is Bourne remains a cheaper, younger commodity over the soon-to-be 27-year-old Matthews, who had just 582 receiving yards combined the past two seasons with the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles.

On paper, this bodes well for Bourne, who’ll look to retain that red-zone prowess while cutting down on drops and developing more chemistry with Garoppolo.

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If he can master these attributes, Bourne has an above average chance to make it through to the 49ers’ regular-season roster in 2019.