For much of this spring, 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has been a bright spot.
The second-year pass catcher, an undrafted free agent from Eastern Washington in 2017, came on strong at the end of his rookie year and wound up with 16 receptions for 257 yards — a 16.1-yard average — with one 54-yarder. The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder then continued to look strong through organized team activities (OTAs) and the recent full-squad minicamp.
Now, Bourne — competing for a job against a crowd of wideouts — is looking like a much stronger candidate to win a roster spot. With Marquise Goodwin, Pierre Garcon, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Aldrick Robinson, Aaron Burbridge, Victor Bolden Jr., fellow rookie Richie James and Max McCaffrey, the competition will be fierce.
But as Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee noted following minicamp last week, Bourne continues to impress.
Barrows wrote that nine of his 16 catches came over the final four games of 2017, and he continued his momentum into June.
“He was prolific in nearly every practice that was open to the media and caught passes with the first-, second- and third-string offenses,” wrote Barrows. “Aaron Burbridge also deserves mention at this position, but Bourne was the standout of the spring. If he maintains that consistency in the summer – and wins the war or attrition that often trips up young receivers – he seems on track to win a roster spot.”
Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan has been a big fan of Bourne’s. Shanahan said at the end of 2017 that Bourne “wasn’t totally ready” to play early last season, but worked hard to refine his skills and “kept battling through it.”
“Even when we would ride him, he didn’t got into a shell,” said Shanahan. “He kept working. He and our receiving coach, Mike LaFleur, put in a lot of time together.”
Bourne’s next chapter in his development will come in training camp, which will begin in mid-July.