The San Francisco 49ers may have another shot at snagging Odell Beckham Jr., but should they? Maybe not. Niner Noises explores how Kendrick Bourne saves the Niners from needing Beckham.
Before the start of the 2019 season, there was much speculation over who would be the San Francisco 49ers‘ No. 1 receiver. Things did not get any clearer through training camp, preseason or the first half of the season, however.
Second-year pro Dante Pettis has been in the proverbial “doghouse” for most of the season, the speedster Marquise Goodwin has not started a game since Week 7 and the Niners’ slot machine, Trent Taylor, has spent the entire season on injured reserve.
The uncertainty at the position left most of the Faithful wondering why general manager John Lynch didn’t make a significant move and grab one of the league’s top players at the position, now-Cleveland Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr., when he was made available by the New York Giants earlier this year. Surely the cost of the star-studded receiver was too steep for San Francisco, which created an easy pass.
But just one season in Cleveland has Beckham reconsidering his decision and has trade rumors stirring once more.
Several insiders are claiming Beckham already wants out. His frustrations are obvious and warranted. Beckham is having his worst season since 2017 when he started just two games. While he is still on pace to break 1,000 yards receiving for the fifth time in his career, Beckham has recorded just two touchdowns: a career low.
It is no surprise Beckham reportedly wants to get away from Cleveland. According to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, Beckham has been putting feelers out all season:
Third-year wide receiver Kendrick Bourne saves the 49ers from needing OBJ. The young receiver is scheduled to be a restricted free agent in 2020, giving the Niners an opportunity to bring him back at a fraction of the price Beckham would cost.
Bourne has had a mostly quiet career. The Eastern Washington product has turned more heads with his dance moves than he has with his field production, and that is OK, for now.
While San Francisco has seen an improved passing game, thanks to Sanders and Samuel, it is Bourne who leads the team in touchdown receptions. Not only has Bourne been the 49ers’ best scoring receiver, but he is also one of the most dependable receivers on the roster. Bourne holds the second-best drop rate, 7.7 percent, for any receiver with over 20 targets.
What is most shocking, because of the lack of overall production, is head coach Kyle Shanahan’s unwavering faith in Bourne. Shanahan has remained confident in Bourne all season, including after the 49ers’ first loss of the year to the Seattle Seahawks when Bourne had two critical drops.
Following the overtime loss, Shanahan doubled down in supporting Bourne stating, “I think Bourne has as good of hands as anyone in this league.”
Bourne has been incredibly efficient in his limited role on Shanahan’s offense. His drop rate and touchdowns are impressive alone, but they become more impressive when you consider that he has not started a single game this season. Bourne has been more like an NBA sixth man than anything else, but his recent production and the continued belief from Shanahan will have Bourne in a starting role soon.
As Bourne continues to develop, the need for a savvy receiver like Beckham becomes less and less. Even more, the desire to pay top dollar for production diminishes. San Francisco should continue to invest in Bourne, as the potential return on investment feels significantly greater.
While the 49ers have plenty of receivers who have been productive, and a handful more who are still out to prove themselves, Bourne will be the receiver who saves the 49ers from pursuing Beckham.
And as long as Shanahan believes in Bourne’s ability, the Faithful should, too.