SANTA CLARA -- It was not so long ago that Kyle Shanahan jokingly compared 49ers wideout Kendrick Bourne to his 9-year-old son.
On Monday, the 49ers coach smiled while describing how Bourne is now viewed in the receivers room.
“He’s almost the vet in the room right now, which is somewhat funny to us, because four years ago he wasn’t close to that,” Shanahan said Monday. “It’s been pretty cool to watch how he’s come this far, and we’re just getting started at camp, but know [that] some of the guys look up to him.
“Bourne has gotten better each year. He knows the offense real well. He’s played all the positions and the same guy today as he was the first day he got here, as least as a person.”
The team wrapped up their first day of padded practice and Bourne, who has been a little under the radar thus far, flashed in a big way.
During the team’s first red-zone drills of training camp, Bourne caught a touchdown pass from C.J. Beathard that was thrown to the right side of the end zone.
Later in move-the-ball drills, Garoppolo threw a deep ball to the left sideline where Bourne hauled it in. The ball immediately was thrown 30 feet up in the air, in a true Bourne-style celebration.
With Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd out due to injuries and Travis Benjamin opting out of the 2020 season, the pressure is on Bourne to step up. Shanahan expects Bourne to answer the call.
“I don’t think there is much difference on how we talk to him now to how we always talk to him,” Shanahan said. “We challenge to get the most out of him every single day regardless of what the situation is.
“If you go look at the cut-ups last year and we had some really good play from Deebo and Emmanuel [Sanders] but you watch Bourne, he might not have had as many catches and stuff but just his consistent play over last year, I thought he was one of our best guys if not our best.”
Bourne finished the 2019 season playing in all 16 regular season games catching 30 of his 44 targets for 358 yards and five touchdowns.