Kendrick Bourne believes he’s just getting started.
The 49ers’ wide receiver, 24, signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent in 2017. This week, he signed a new one-year deal as a restricted free agent for as much as $3.2 million, and is ready to keep improving.
“So thankful for this organization!” he tweeted. “Promise I’m going even harder.”
After playing just 11 games and making 16 catches as a rookie, Bourne improved to 42 catches for 487 yards and four touchdowns in Year 2, then added 30 catches for 358 yards and five TDs in 2019’s regular season. In three postseason games, he added six catches for 88 yards and a TD.
The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder dropped just three passes in 2019 – down from five in 2018 -- while also producing 122 yards after the catch. Of his 30 catches, 23 went for first downs.
While the 49ers are hoping to add more talent to the wide receiver corps in the draft – possibly with the highest of their two first-round picks – No. 13 overall – keeping Bourne gives the 49ers a physical, energetic wideout who’s developed a good rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo and a feel for Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Late during the 2019 season, Garoppolo said he’s come to look for Bourne in third-down and scrambling situations, when getting open and being in position to make a catch are crucial.
“KB, he finds the space,” Garoppolo said. “He’s a good, instinctive player who, if the initial play isn’t there or a little off-schedule, he has no problem working. He puts his hands up, you know, all those little things that you do when the play breaks down. He’s phenomenal at it.”
Bourne’s best performance may have been against the Saints in New Orleans in December, when he caught two TD passes in a 48-46 San Francisco win.
Garoppolo said Bourne “was as locked in as anybody,” and was able to make crucial catches even during the “loudest moments of the game.”
Now, Bourne’s getting a chance to keep improving, earn more playing time and help the 49ers get back to the postseason in 2020.