Kendrick Bourne didn't get a ton of playing time in 2017, but the snaps he received give the 49ers hope the young wide receiver could quickly develop into a strong target in 2018.
Bourne, an undrafted rookie from Eastern Washington last season, appeared in 11 games, caught 16 passes for 257 yards and averaged 16.1 yards per reception. All of that production, however, came in November and December, with his biggest game coming in the 49ers' 25-23 victory over the playoff-bound Tennessee Titans on Dec. 17. In that game, Bourne had a season-best four catches for 85 yards.
After that game, head coach Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers had liked Bourne from the start and that his big game against the Titans was proof of the potential they saw in him.
"Yeah, I was real happy for Kendrick," Shanahan told reporters. "Kendrick, he got a late start here. Missing all of OTAs with his semester scheduling, came in during training camp. Was really on the outside looking in for a while, because it just took him a while to pick it up having such a late start."
"But he was a guy we were scared to lose, so we kept him on our roster instead of putting him on practice squad and took him a while to get ready. Then once we lost Pierre (Garcon) he had to be ready. He's gotten better each week. He’s made some big plays for us. He did a great job today beating man coverage and made some plays after the catch. I was real happy for him. He’s been working real hard all year to get into this situation."
Bourne goes into next season with fellow second-year wideout Trent Taylor, Marquise Goodwin, Garcon and Aldrick Robinson. San Francisco will likely add another receiver in the draft. Bourne doesn't figure to start, but 2018 could be a productive year for him, now that he knows Shanahan's system and has a rapport with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Over the final five games with Garoppolo, Bourne had 19 passes thrown his way and had nine catches.
Bourne said he credited Shanahan for not rushing him and having faith in his ability.
"It's just been better, the rhythm's been better, everything's been going great," Bourne said as the season wound down. "I think Kyle, kudos to him because he knows where to put people to make them successful."