Undrafted: Getting to Know 49ers WR Kendrick Bourne

The San Francisco 49ers have several undrafted rookies who have impressed so far during training camp. That's why we are beginning a mini-series to help you get to know these first-year players.

First up is former Eastern Washington wide receiver Kendrick Bourne. For starters, we are going to ask each player to describe their game.

So what kind of receiver is Bourne?

"I'm a competitive athlete. I'm a humble guy and a hard worker. I thrive in my route running. I'm a good separator. You're not going to get a lot of space in the NFL, defensive backs are so good. I'm quicker than fast, and so I feel like I can get out of my breaks quicker than others."

The 6-foot-1 wideout posted 1,201 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 2016 with the Eagles. Bourne's numbers earned him an invite to February's NFL Combine. His draft stock took a hit with a sub-par 40 time of 4.68 seconds. Conversely, his 6.73-second three-cone drill was near the top of his class and supported his "quicker than fast" claim. 

The draft came and went without Bourne hearing his name called. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams selected his Eastern Washington teammate Cooper Kupp in the third round. Bourne was happy for his teammate, obviously, but the letdown still added fuel to his fire.

"I was definitely feeling like I could have gotten drafted," Bourne said. "I ran slow which hurt my cause. I feel like I'm up to par with Cooper Kupp."

San Francisco called midway through the seventh round. They didn't play games, letting Bourne know immediately that he was wanted on the 49ers roster as a priority free agent. The new coaching staff and blank slate for every player made it an easy sell for the Portland, Ore., native.

It's not often that an undrafted free agent enters a situation that even remotely resembles a level playing field.

"I definitely feel like I've got a shot," Bourne said. "My confidence is high. I feel happy about my decision."

And Bourne is making the most of his opportunity thus far. He's consistently flashed as a downfield threat and has even seen some first-team reps. Bourne credits his early success with his grasp of Kyle Shanahan's system.

"I feel like I get the playbook real well," Bourne said. "I feel like it's been clicking for me. I'm just figuring out ways to remember it when I study."

And yet, there's no place for complacency. There is minimal investment in undrafted free agents. That means if you're going to take someone else's roster spot, you've got to leave no doubt that it should be yours.

Bourne is one of two undrafted wideouts who have impressed so far. Former Oregon State receiver Victor Bolden Jr. has also shown well.

"We're the underdogs," Bourne said. "We've got to stick together. Our mindset is to take advantage. We can't be the guys who get jammed, don't get off the ball and don't catch the ball."

Consistency is key. Bourne will need to show positively on film to keep at the top of mind. There are currently 13 receivers on the roster (including two that were just added on Tuesday), which means it's an uphill climb at making the roster. Just don't tell Bourne that he has no chance.

"I'm feeling confident right now," he said. "I feel like I'm making plays. I've got to keep it up. I've got to see the coverages, know what defensive backs are doing and make plays.

"I'm working my tail off, trying to earn a spot. I'm doing everything I can."

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