Throughout training camp, it appeared 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne was in danger of missing the cut.
Now that he’s on the roster for the start of the regular season, he may still be on the bubble.
Bourne, who led Niners wide receivers in yards (487) and catches (42) in 2018, was inconsistent in practices and exhibition games, and looked vulnerable during a summer in which the competition was fierce.
The 49ers drafted Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd in Rounds 2 and 3 this spring, acquired veteran Jordan Matthews and looked to players such as Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor and Richie James Jr. to reach even higher ceilings.
But when the team made its cuts this past weekend, injuries to Taylor and Hurd (who possibly will miss Sunday’s regular-season opener at Tampa Bay, opened the door for Bourne to stick. The 49ers will carry seven receivers -- one more than expected -- going into the new year, hoping that Hurd (soon) and Taylor (later) will be able to play. If Bourne wants to stick around when those two return, he’ll need to produce.
Plus, the 49ers decided Bourne is a better option than Matthews, who was cut. The 27-year-old Matthews, who’s played for the Eagles and Bills in his five NFL seasons, didn’t give the 49ers enough reason to keep him over Bourne.
“Nothing but a professional, kind of a victim of circumstance,” said GM John Lynch, of how Matthews took the news. “The draft aligned such that it did, we went out and got two receivers and that made it an uphill battle for Jordan.”
Bourne, meanwhile, had a good finish to the preseason schedule. After dropping a pass early in Thursday’s game against the Chargers, Bourne made a nice, diving reception in the end zone for a touchdown on a throw from C.J. Beathard.
Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan, late in training camp, said he wanted to see more consistency from Bourne, but said even though Bourne had dropped a few throws, that wasn’t much of a concern based on what he's seen in the past.
“Drops from Bourne haven’t been too much of a problem,” he said. “I do consider Bourne having some of the better hands on our team.”
The 49ers, 3-1 in the preseason, will try to get their first regular-season win in Tampa Bay, with kickoff set for 1:25 p.m. (Bay Area time).