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

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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.”

 

The three things you need to know from 49ers' 41-39 loss vs Rams

The three things you need to know from 49ers' 41-39 loss vs Rams

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 41-39 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3 on Thursday night:

1. The offense is alive
It was a rough start for quarterback Brian Hoyer. His interception on the first pass attempt of the game was exactly how the team did not want to see him bounce back from a horrendous offensive showing against Seattle.

But Hoyer rebounded with a more-than respectable performance after his interception led to the Rams' first touchdown -- just 12 seconds into the game. Hoyer completed 23 of 37 for 332 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Still, everything is not running smoothly with the passing game. The receivers do not always seem to be running crisp routes. Hoyer is not putting his passes in great spots. And the receivers have far too many drops.

But with Carlos Hyde running hard – 84 yards and two touchdowns on 25 attempts – and the passing game showing some signs of life, the offense under coach Kyle Shanahan should get better and better.

And that should bode well for the future.

2. Defensive letdown
The defense is the side of the ball that was supposed to carry the 49ers. And after solid showings in the first two games of the season, the defense failed to hold up its end of the bargain against a vastly improved Rams offense.

Again, the 49ers did not supply much of a pass rush. The run defense was pretty good for most of the game, but Jared Goff picked the 49ers apart because he has time to wait for his talented receiving corps of Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins to get open against the 49ers’ over-stressed secondary.

Third downs have killed the 49ers’ defense. The unit simply cannot get off the field in crucial situations. The Rams were successful on eight of their 12 plays on third downs. The defense has to find a level of consistency. And they are clearly missing rookie linebacker Reuben Foster, who has not played since the opening 11 plays of the opener due to a high ankle sprain.

3. Time to recover
The 49ers have a long week, and that comes at a good time with fullback Kyle Juszczyk, safety Jaquiski Tartt and linebacker Brock Coyle in the NFL’s concussion protocol after sustaining injuries in the second half.

Juszczyk appeared to be shaken up when he went head-to-head with Rams safety Mark Barron as a lead blocker on a third-down run play for Hyde. He was slow to get up but remained on the field for the fourth-down play. He made a block on Hyde’s 1-yard touchdown run, and again was slow to get up. He did not return to action due to a concussion.

Defensive lineman Tank Carradine sustained a right ankle sprain early in the fourth quarter and did not return. He left the locker room walking slowly while wearing an orthopedic boot after the game.

The 49ers return to action Oct. 1 at the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers must get some of their players back in order to have any hope of avoiding an 0-4 start, including getting swept in their first round through the NFC West.

Instant Analysis: 49ers fight back, fall yards short of huge comeback vs Rams

Instant Analysis: 49ers fight back, fall yards short of huge comeback vs Rams

BOX SCORE

SANTA CLARA – After feasting on the Los Angeles Rams twice last year, the 49ers found out Thursday night that these Sean McVay Rams are not the same ol’ Rams.

McVay, the 31-year-old head coach who served as quarterbacks under then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan for several seasons with Washington, got the better of the first head-to-head matchups against his former mentor. It could be their first of many meetings as NFC West rivals.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff looked like the No. 1 overall draft pick of 2016 -- which he was -- and despite spirited late-fourth-quarter rally, the 49ers made enough critical errors to prevent Shanahan from any chance of his first victory as an NFL head coach.

The Rams took advantage of an early Brian Hoyer mistake and held on for dear life to a 41-39 victory over the 49ers in front of a sparse gathering at Levi’s Stadium.

In the past 22 games entering the game, the 49ers were 3-0 against the Rams and 0-19 against all other opponents. That trend came to a halt, but not before the 49ers' wild comeback attempt made for one of the more interesting Thursday night games in recent memory.

The 49ers made it interesting late. After Hoyer threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to rookie slot receiver Trent Taylor to cut the Rams lead to eight points, 41-33, with 5:12 remaining in the fourth quarter, the 49ers got a quick takeaway on the ensuring kickoff.

Victor Bolden forced a fumble on Rams return man Pharoh Cooper, and Aldrick Robinson made the recovery. Carlos Hyde scored with 2:17 remaining, but Hoyer’s two-point conversion pass intended for Trent Taylor for the tie was broken up and intercepted.

Trailing 41-39, Robbie Gould’s onside kick was recovered by Raheem Mostert. But the 49ers could get no closer. Their last best chance was erased when Taylor's apparent reception at the Rams' 39-yard line was called back on his own penalty for offensive pass interference.

Coming off a poor performance on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, the night could not have started any worse for Hoyer, the 49ers’ starting quarterback.

Hoyer’s first attempt, intended for Marquise Goodwin was off the mark, provided Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman with an easy interception. Robey-Coleman’s 25-yard return set up Todd Gurley’s 3-yard touchdown run.

And just like that, the 49ers trailed 7-0 just 12 seconds into the game.

Hoyer and the 49ers’ offense managed to string together enough plays on the next drive and were aided by a Rams offside penalty on a punt to form a 14-play, 81-yard drive.

Hoyer accounted for the first touchdown in 126 minutes, 47 seconds for the 49ers this season with a 9-yard touchdown run. It was the second running touchdown of Hoyer’s career, and the first since his rookie season of 2009 with the New England Patriots.

Gurley scored three touchdowns in the first half as the Rams built a 24-13 lead. Robbie Gould kicked field goals of 36 and 48 yards for the 49ers. But he also missed an extra point at the beginning of the fourth quarter that proved costly, forcing the 49ers to go for a two-point conversion late in the game for the tie.

Gurley finished with 113 yards and two touchdowns on 28 rushing attempts. He added a 7-yard touchdown reception.

Goff had a strong showing, completing 22 of 28 passes for 292 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 145.8.

The 49ers got back into the game in the middle of the third quarter with a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Shanahan rolled the dice on fourth down from the L.A. 1-yard line. Hyde scored to make the score 27-20 with 20 minutes to play.

But the 49ers’ defense was not up to the task, allowing the Rams to convert 8 of 12 (67 percent) on third downs.

Hoyer ended up piecing together a decent game, completing 23 of 37 passes for 332 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Pierre Garçon caught seven passes for 142 yards.

INJURY REPORT
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk was ruled out of action for the remainder of the game late in the third quarter due to a neck injury. Juszczyk appeared to be injured during a short-yardage situation that ended up with Hyde scoring on a 1-yard run. He was later diagnosed with a concussion.

The 49ers also lost two other players due to concussions. Safety Jaquiski Tartt and linebacker Brock Coyle both sustained head injuries in the third quarter and were ultimately diagnosed with concussions, the 49ers announced.

Defensive lineman Tank Carradine went down early in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.

The 49ers will return to action on Oct. 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.

THIS ‘N’ THAT
--Running back Carlos Hyde left the game in the first quarter with a hip injury, and was announced as questionable to return. However, he missed just one series before returning to action. Hyde finished with 84 yards and two touchdowns on 25 rushing attempts.

--While Hyde was out, 49ers No. 3 running back Raheem Mostert lost a fumble.

--The 49ers got a takeaway in the second quarter when long-snapper Kyle Nelson ran down the field to recover Tavon Austin’s muffed punt.

--Safety Jimmie Ward can expect a fine of $24,309 for his hit on Robert Woods as a defenseless receiver late in the first half after a 13-yard gain. The unnecessary roughness penalty on Ward moved the ball to the 2-yard line. On the next play, Gurley scored a touchdown to give Los Angeles a 24-13 lead at halftime.

--Shanahan won his first challenge as he threw the red flag to object to a play on which Pierre Garçon was ruled to have caught Hoyer’s pass out of bounds. Instead, Garçon’s remarkable two-foot toe-drag was ruled complete for a 19-yard gain. The play accounted for 34 yards, as Aaron Donald’s late hit on Hoyer was tacked onto the end of the play.

--He later won another challenge in the fourth quarter on a similar play to Marquise Goodwin at the sideline late in the fourth quarter. The play gained 12 yards.

--Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster, who sat out the game with a high ankle sprain, wore a 49ers custom jersey on the sideline with a nameplate that read, “5AVA6E” (SAVAGE). Foster wears No. 56.