San Francisco 49ers: 3 players who could take step back in 2020
49ers Wide Receiver Kendrick Bourne
Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is probably the most fascinating player in terms of his future production with the 49ers. Constantly relegated to a WR3 or WR4 position, the man just produced in his limited reps and earned more playing time and trust as time went on last year.
Now, with Emmanuel Sanders out of the picture and rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk still needing to be integrated into the offense, Bourne will likely get a chance to grab more minutes and more targets.
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And therein lies the major area of potential regression.
You’re probably wondering how more targets could equal a step back, but it’s important to notice Bourne’s claim to fame with the 49ers. His primary value has been through his incredible efficiency with his catches. Bourne had only 30 catches on the year, but 23 of them were for a first down or a touchdown (h/t Niners Wire). That’s efficiency to the extreme.
That also is an incredibly unique stat line, almost too unique. That level of touchdowns per reception is a hard stat to duplicate, especially with way more targets skewing the sample size. That makes incredibly unlikely that Bourne would have that same type of production in the future.
Now if that efficiency does not get duplicated, then Bourne would be a big candidate for regression. Increased opportunity does not mean increased production, and without the same efficiency, Bourne would likely end up being less valuable. And if the increased opportunity does not come to pass, it is still unlikely Bourne reaches the level of this year.
Again, that doesn’t mean that Bourne can’t end up showing out next year. With more opportunities, Bourne would also have the chance to amass a lot more volume, and although his efficiency may drop, the level of that drop would determine his overall performance.
Regression is inevitable for this team in some regards, and these three players each have some part of their performance last year that seemed out of the ordinary. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee. Hard work, talent and progression could make the abnormal just normal. Until then, that can’t be production the 49ers rely upon.