No. 2: SF 49ers Wide Receiver Kendrick Bourne
One could make the argument fourth-year wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has been the SF 49ers’ most consistent wideout during training camp. And with injuries to fellow receivers Deebo Samuel (foot) and Richie James (wrist), there’s notably less competition in the way to prevent Bourne from seizing a significant role for Kyle Shanahan right out of the gate.
So, why would Bourne be in possible jeopardy of losing a starting bid to start the year?
For starters, much of it hinges on Samuel’s availability. The Niners didn’t announce Samuel would start the year on the physically unable-to-perform list, which is good. And with the excellent maturation of rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk, becoming one of training camp’s best storylines so far, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the 49ers press for a starting tandem of Samuel and Aiyuk as soon as possible.
And for slot duties — remember, three-wide is now more of a base formation just like nickel packages — it’s hard to see anyone else than fellow fourth-year pro Trent Taylor getting the starting nod.
Bourne, who didn’t start last year but started eight games in 2018, would have been primed for a key role if Aiyuk hadn’t developed so quickly. Now, the prospects for Bourne starting in Week 1 and beyond rest entirely on Samuel’s recovery.