Coach Kyle Shanahan has often praised the ability of 49ers wide receiver, Kendrick Bourne, to catch the football.
After Bourne dropped two passes, including one that deflected into an interception in the 49ers’ 27-24 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, Shanahan did not blame the mishaps on the third-year player’s hands.
“When a guy with really good hands drops it, it’s not because he has bad hands,” Shanahan said. “So then you look into why it was. It usually comes back to their eyes and their vision and concentration, or someone ripped it out, and that’s not what happened.
“Bourne, I’ll always put him up there. I think Bourne has as good of hands as anyone in this league, and sometimes when you do that, you don’t focus, you don’t concentrate on it because you’re never scared of dropping it.”
Shanahan cited Cleveland receiver Odell Beckham, who he said has among the best hands in the league but also ranks among the worst in the league in dropped passes. Beckham has five dropped passes this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Bourne ranks fourth on the 49ers with 15 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns. He has three drops, according to PFF. On Monday, he caught four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown, along with a reception on a two-point conversion. But the ones got away were what made the more lasting impression.
“He’s a guy who can catch the ball,” Shanahan said. “He’s made a lot of big catches for us. He made two big catches in that game leading up to that point, but that was a huge change. The pick that bounced off his hands, that would have been an explosive and then the drop inside the 10 that would have given us a chance at first-and-goal going for the lead. Hopefully, he will learn from that. He’ll make sure to look it in regardless of the confidence in his hands and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
After letting another reception slip through his hands that resulted in a turnover that the Seahawks turned into a touchdown, Bourne let a key third-down pass from Jimmy Garoppolo get away in the fourth quarter.
“I kind of get a little jittery, anxious, and I tend to run before the catch,” Bourne said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “I felt like on the second one, the third down, I was kind of worried about making my move. I was going to go under Bobby Wagner.
“It was a wide-open pass. I felt like I was too relaxed on the ball, rather than looking it in, making the catch, and then making the play. Just more focus. More hand-eye coordination when the ball’s coming.”
After the game, Bourne was clearly disappointed in his own play. Teammates Tevin Coleman and Richie James spoke with him at his locker to offer support. Bourne said it is difficult for him to move on from bad plays.
“I am pretty bad with that,” Bourne said. “I am kind of one of those guys that will beat up on himself. Just having good teammates telling me to keep my head up. Just not really thinking about it.
“I am just down on myself because those type of things can happen. It is just about focusing in on the ball, because I know I can catch the ball. It is not hard. Sometimes you just squeeze it harder than other situations. When I am wide open, I tend to get more relaxed than when someone is on me.”