How 49ers' Kendrick Bourne, Jimmy Garoppolo formed strong chemistry

How 49ers' Kendrick Bourne, Jimmy Garoppolo formed strong chemistry

Kendrick Bourne continued to defy the odds last season as a former undrafted free agent, but it wasn't exactly a fast start for the 49ers receiver. 

Bourne, 24, didn't catch a touchdown pass until the 49ers' eighth game of the year last season. Through the first seven games he only had 10 receptions for 151 yards and didn't find the end zone. The last nine games, though, Bourne hauled in 20 receptions for 207 yards and five touchdowns. 

As the season progress, he could feel his bond growing with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. 

"As I started to get more playing time and chemistry with Jimmy, it just actually naturally clicked," Bourne said Tuesday on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" show.

Bourne's five touchdown receptions wound up tying George Kittle for the team lead. Bourne also caught six passes for 88 yards and one touchdown in the playoffs, while Kittle didn't reach the end zone.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Though Bourne went undrafted and Garoppolo was picked by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, neither one played at a Division-I school. They both played collegiately at FCS schools -- Bourne at Eastern Washington and Garoppolo at Eastern Illinois -- and Bourne believes that's helped with their chemistry. 

"I always take it back to FCS -- I don't know, man. There's somethin' about FCS, it's just me and him connectin', man," Bourne said. "It's so crazy to think about how he was at Eastern Illinois when I was at Eastern Washington.

"I watched him, because he was always in the playoffs with us and always in competition with us -- just always a top-tier dude." 

[RELATED: Why 49ers should rectify mistake, trade for Jets' Adams]

The 49ers traded for Garoppolo in 2017, the same year they signed Bourne after the draft. As they have grown on the field, the receiver said they have a great relationship away from the gridiron as well.

"He's a cool dude, just laid back," Bourne said. "He never blames us. ... He always tries to make himself be better, and that's how our whole team is. That's why we've played top-tier football."

49ers' Arik Armstead ignores critics of speaking up on social issues

49ers' Arik Armstead ignores critics of speaking up on social issues

Arik Armstead doesn't want to hear it.

The 49ers defensive lineman spoke to Sactown Magazine for its July/August issue, and says that if you're not willing to listen to his dialogue off the field about social issues affecting our country, Armstead doesn't want you tuning in to watch him and his teammates dominate on the field.

“If you don’t want me speaking out against racism and social issues and social injustices, then don’t watch me play on Sundays," Armstead said. "Can’t have a piece of me and not all of me.”

Armstead also joined NBC Sports Bay Area's "Race In America" series a few weeks ago, and spoke about the pain he felt seeing video of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police Custody.

"Like, why do I have to continue -- why do we have to continue to see people that look like us get murdered on social media and on the TV?" Armstead told Logan Murdock and Monte Poole on  "Race In America: A Candid Conversation." " ... I'm on Instagram, and I just got to see another Black person get killed unjustly."

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

The 26-year-old also discussed a time when he was racially profiled by local police near a friend's house in Elk Grove.

“A cop gets behind us, pulls us over,” Armstead recalls. “‘What y’all doing? Where y’all going?’”

[RELATED: Colin Kaepernick, Nate Boyer helped enact real change with discussion]

The officer then made Armstead and his friends prove that they knew the people whose house they were traveling to, by bringing the cop with them to the front door and having the friend explain that he was acquainted with Armstead.

Armstead has made it clear he won't be staying silent or "sticking to sports." For those who don't want to hear Armstead's voice on these issues, don't expect him to care whether you watch him play on Sundays.

See Joe Staley's motivational IG message for 49ers' Kendrick Bourne

See Joe Staley's motivational IG message for 49ers' Kendrick Bourne

Joe Staley long has been a model of consistency for the 49ers, spending the past 12 seasons protecting a myriad of 49ers quarterbacks as San Francisco's starting left tackle.

Staley's younger teammates held so much respect for him, as you could see from the many who spoke publicly in the wake of Staley's retirement back in April.

It appears even in retirement Staley continues to inspire his former teammates, as 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne shared an Instagram direct message from Staley on Sunday morning.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"Never lose sight of the goal. The ring," Staley wrote to Bourne. "That's all that matters in what we do. I never got it. You. Mr KB!! Go get it!! F-----g GET IT!! Make me proud bro. I love watching your hustle. All love."

Staley was responding to a video Bourne had posted of some of the hardware he's earned over his football career, including one of the game balls from the 49ers' blowout Week 8 win over the Carolina Panthers.

[RELATED: Why 49ers should explore David Njoku trade with Browns after demand]

Bourne and the 49ers came so close to helping Staley capture that elusive championship ring, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied from a 10-point deficit to stun San Francisco at Super Bowl LIV.

The 49ers won the offseason in the eyes of some pundits around the league, and appear primed for another deep postseason run. It'll be up to Bourne, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and the rest of the 49ers' talented roster to finish the job if they can get back to the Super Bowl.