It is no secret that I am a big fan of Kendrick Bourne, despite limited production in his first season. The 6’2” 190 lb wide receiver was an undrafted free agent for the 49ers signed after last year’s draft. I believe he will have a chance to put himself among the likes of Rod Smith, Wes Welker and Drew Pearson as undrafted players that have made big names for themselves in the NFL.
Let’s start by looking at his college career. During his time at Eastern Washington (the same place that produced Cooper Kupp), he managed 211 receptions for 3,130 yards and 27 touchdowns.
The stats are overwhelming, but if you only include his last two seasons at college, he averaged 88.26 yards per game with 14.44 yards per reception. Not bad at all. He did all the right things during his college career. He stayed out of trouble, played all four seasons up to his senior year (which is vital when you are entering the draft out of the FCS) and put up good stats when he was playing.
Moving on to his rookie season in the NFL, he was active for eleven games. One key aspect you would notice is that he saw increased targets, receptions, and yards once Jimmy Garoppolo started playing.
It is vital for any wide receiver that they have a good rapport with their quarterback. If there is no ‘bond,’ you are never going to get a look in. Looking at Bourne’s stats, one thing that stands out is his yards per reception. Kendrick Bourne averaged 16.1 yards per reception, which is a huge positive.
What makes me think he is going to break out this year? Firstly, the coaching staff has taken notice of him. The more they notice him, the more snaps he will take on the field. Secondly, as reported by the 49ers website, Jimmy Garoppolo has developed a very good rapport with him. As mentioned earlier, this is huge when it comes to his targets.
Looking at the 49ers current group of receivers, I don’t see a lot of competition for Bourne. Pierre Garcon is their obvious number 1 guy, but he is now 31 years old and coming back from a severe neck injury. If he is back to full strength, then this would hinder Bourne as Garcon would be the outright favorite receiver for Garoppolo, if not – there may be chances elsewhere. Marquise Goodwin had a good year last year by his standards, playing in all 16 games and managing 962 yards and two touchdowns. But for me, he is strictly a ‘Mike Wallace-esque’ deep threat. He is not going to get a lot of targets, but when he does, he goes big.
Trent Taylor is their slot receiver, and that is it. He didn’t get many more targets than Bourne in the back end of last season, and he was on the field for a lot more snaps, so I don’t see him as a problem for Bourne. Past these, they have Aldrick Robinson (ugh), 2nd round rookie Dante Pettis, late-round rookie Richie James and a few obvious practice squad players.
Ultimately, Kendrick Bourne only has to compete with Aldrick Robinson and Dante Pettis for the ‘number four receiver’ role. While I agree that a 2nd round pick (Pettis) is always going to be favoured over an undrafted free agent, Bourne has a year under his belt; already knows the playbook and has already developed a bond with his offense. This gives him a major advantage over any incoming rookies, regardless as to what round they were drafted in. Kendrick Bourne is one big game away from making the 49ers coaching staff open their eyes and giving him a lot more time on the field.
For fantasy football, there is a good chance that Kendrick Bourne may go undrafted in your league. If you have space to stash him on your roster, do it now before it is too late!
Feel free to drop me a follow on Twitter @DFF_JamesH, always around to talk football! Thanks for reading.
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