Hurt by NFL rules, 49ers WR Kendrick Bourne making up for lost time


Hurt by NFL rules, 49ers WR Kendrick Bourne making up for lost time

The rule that prohibits rookies from joining NFL offseason programs until classes at their colleges have ended, really, has little impact on the top draft picks.

The young players who face the biggest challenges are those who must make an immediate impression in order to win a job.

“Christian McCaffrey and Solomon Thomas, those guys get all the attention because they’re first-round picks,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “But those are the guys who are going to be all right, regardless of whether they miss an offseason.

“It’s more of the guys like Kendrick Bourne, who was undrafted and other people like that, who are battling to make roster spots who have only been here for a few weeks, it really puts them behind the eight ball.

Bourne was allowed to take part in only the final day of organized team activities due to the late ending of classes at Eastern Washington. The pass-catcher has been playing catch-up since reporting to training camp in Santa Clara.

“I was definitely kind of struggling, definitely messed up a couple of routes during camp,” Bourne said. “(Receivers coach) Mike (LaFleur) was kind of not trusting me. I was struggling with some of the stuff I couldn’t remember and I was busting routes.”

But in the 49ers’ first exhibition game Friday against the Kansas City Chiefs, Bourne made his identity known with four receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown. He also had a leaping catch for a two-point conversion pass from rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard.

“I was locked in and ready to go,” Bourne said. “I studied real hard because I knew I was going to be in the game. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes. That’s what practice is for.”

Bourne (6 foot 1, 203 pounds) played four seasons at Eastern Washington and caught 79 passes for 1,201 yards and seven touchdowns during his senior season. He was overshadowed by college teammate Cooper Kupp, a third-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, Bourne’s 40-yard dash time of 4.68 was one of the slowest times among the 58 wide receivers invited. But only three wide receivers ran a faster three-cone drill (6.73 seconds). He is not a speedster, but he has short-area quickness.

The 49ers signed Bourne as an undrafted rookie. Shanahan said the 49ers gave no consideration to Bourne’s lack of availability for the offseason program before signing him.

“I think that’s stuff you talk more about with a drafted guy,” Shanahan said. “But when it comes to trying to sign a guy after the draft, you’re trying to just look at the most talented guys that didn’t get drafted and you’re doing whatever you can to get them into your building.”

Bourne and Beathard teamed up on impressive back-to-back plays in the 49ers’ 27-17 victory over the Chiefs in the exhibition opener.

Bourne said he was supposed to begin his route outside of the cornerback on the left side. But the corner was aligned in a way that made it difficult to get to the outside. Bourne went inside. Beathard immediately recognized the improvised route, but still managed to find Bourne open for a 46-yard touchdown pass.

“He’s a really talented receiver,” Beathard said. “He’s skilled and just being able to work with him for the little bit of time we’ve had, it’s nice having him in there, making good catches.”

On the next play, Beathard and Bourne connected on a fade route for the two-point conversion.

“Actually, I was struggling in practice with it a lot,” said Bourne, who has a 34-inch vertical leap. “I haven’t completed one in weeks, and it was a good ball, good timing. I actually didn’t even get a good release. I was fighting with the DB (rookie J.R. Nelson) and had more body control with him and came down with it.”

Bourne faces a difficult challenge to win a roster spot with the 49ers, but he could be placing himself in prime position for the 10-player practice squad.

“He’s got a natural ability to separate and he’s got good hands,” Shanahan said.

“He missed a whole offseason, basically, not counting the rookie minicamp. So that’s had him behind. You’ve got to be the right type of guy to really catch up on that because it’s just impossible to get the same reps as everyone else has.”


Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

After a couple of practices and one exhibition game against the Denver Broncos, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan once again came to the realization things are often not as good or bad as they seem.

That was his takeaway a day after the 49ers provided the Broncos with five giveaways to go along with 11 penalties in a 33-14 loss at Levi’s Stadium.

“But when I get in and watch the tape, it wasn’t quite as bad as it felt,” Shanahan said Sunday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “When you look at each situation, especially when you talk about the ones on offense, it takes 11 guys to execute a play, and if you have one guy off a little bit, it breaks down.”

A couple of passes that could have been caught, a ball that slipped out of quarterback Brian Hoyer’s hand and some other correctable errors gives Shanahan reason to be optimistic.

When he spoke to the media on Saturday night after the game, Shanahan was clearly upset with how his 90-man team performed. He was asked a day later if it was a relief to watch the film and come to the conclusion that not everything was a total disaster.

“It’s not really relief,” Shanahan quipped. “It’s kind of my life story.

“We put a lot into it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage, practice or preseason. I try to compose myself by the time I talk to you guys (the media) after practice. But I’m pretty pissed after practice when it doesn’t go well. We’re competitive guys and we want everything to be perfect. That’s why most of the time I’m not that happy.”

Shanahan said he expects everyone in the organization to hold themselves to the same high standard.

“Whenever you go out to a game like that, you want to win, you want to play well,” he said. “And you turn the ball over like that and you have the penalties that we did, I’m definitely going to be pissed off and I expect everyone in our building to be pissed off. If they’re not, that’s when I would be worried.”

Shanahan said he had the opposite feeling after the practice Wednesday against the Broncos that looked like a decisive win for the 49ers. Upon review, Shanahan said he felt there was still a lot of room for improvement.

“I thought things seemed real good at practice our first day versus them,” he said. “Then, I go in and watch the film and it was good but not quite as good as I felt when I was out there.”

49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon


49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon

The 49ers could get their presumptive starting free safety back on the field this week.

Jimmie Ward, who has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since sustaining a hamstring injury during a conditioning test on the eve of training camp, will go through strenuous workouts Monday and Tuesday.

Ward could be cleared to return to practice as early as Wednesday, when the club is scheduled to hold its next practice.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday in a conference call with reporters that defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley will will pace him through a football-related workout on Monday and Tuesday.

"Hopefully, we'll get him ready to go by Wednesday," Shanahan said.

The 49ers envision Ward, a first-round draft pick in 2014, as a major contributor in the team’s new 4-3 scheme, which is based on Seattle’s defense. With strong safety Eric Reid playing close to the line of scrimmage, Ward will play the deep safety – a role that Earl Thomas has played for the Seahawks.

In Ward’s absence, undrafted rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome started the 49ers’ first two exhibition games and appears to have played his way into solid position for a spot on the 53-man roster.

"Lorenzo has done a good job," Shanahan said. "I think a couple of times he's ran around and been a ballhawk for us and made some tackles. I thought they caught him a few times out of position last night on a few play-action looks because he's been so aggressive. He's going to have to learn from those, but they never made him pay for those by going outside."

--The 49ers will have days off on Monday and Tuesday as they settle into their regular-season routine.

--Shanahan said he has been formulating ideas for the game plan against Carolina in Week 1 of the regular season. So as the 49ers play the exhibition games, they are mindful of not showing too much.

"I never get too far away from that," Shanahan said. "Everything we put into a preseason game, you always try to take into account what you’re going to be doing in the regular season."

--Shanahan said he thought No. 1 quarterback Brian Hoyer "did a good job." He said the first throw intended for Vance McDonald over the middle was thrown a little late.

"Besides that, I thought he did a good job with his reads and went to the right spots," Shanahan said.

Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard also was on-point with his reads, Shanahan said.

--Eli Harold got the start Saturday night at outside linebacker position, as he competes with Ahmad Brooks for a job.

"I try to go off what I see in practice," Shanahan said. "You want to know who has more upside, things like that. Who's going to get better throughout the year if given the opportunity? But you also want to know, when it's all said and done, who is going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things I look at personally."

--Former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement on Sunday. Shanahan never coached him, but he was obviously a big fan.

"I've personally met Anquan or talked to him before, but he has been one of my favorites of all time," Shanahan said. "I love Anquan. I don't know him at all, but I feel like I do because I've always studied how he plays. I remember watching him in college when he came into Florida State as a quarterback and moved quickly to receiver his freshman year.

"And I remember him coming into the league and people thinking he wouldn't be as great because he didn't have a fast 40 time. And watching him play over the years. That's my definition of a football player. He's as violent of a receiver as there is, and I've always truly believed that receivers can really set the mentality of an offense. I feel lineman have no choice, they have to be tough. Running backs, if you're not tough, you're not going to make it in this league because you get hit every play. Quarterbacks got to hang in there. Receivers are the guys who can pick and choose a little bit. And when you have guys who play like Anquan, that just brings a whole different mentality to your offense that I think usually leads to teams that have chances to win Super Bowls."