SANTA CLARA — Kendrick Bourne had the highest total yards of any 49ers wide receiver in 2018, but it’s what he did during this past offseason that has impressed coach Kyle Shanahan the most.
“KB always works, but you can tell it was different this time,” Shanahan said. “He didn’t leave at all in his 40 days away. I can see he’s stronger. I can see he’s in better shape. I can see he’s more locked in.
“I always like to see how much room they gain on the other people while they are gone and KB made big jumps compared to some other guys and it’s showing on the field and he deserves it.”
Tight end George Kittle was the overall leader in receiving yards for the team but Bourne finished the season with momentum, becoming a top target for quarterback Nick Mullens. Bourne ended last year with 487 yards on 42 receptions.
Shanahan admits that there isn’t one particular receiver that has emerged as the group’s leading player, because they have yet to show enough consistency.
Throughout training camp there have been impressive plays by Bourne, Dante Pettis and the entire receiving group, but there have also been dropped passes and missed assignments.
“Sometimes you pick them up and sometimes you’ve got to get on them,” Shanahan said. “It’s not just the rookie receivers, it’s the veterans too. I mean Pettis made a good play and caught a first down and then he fumbled it.
“There’s a number of guys out there and we need that group to step up. We have some ability in that group, but the consistency isn’t there. Of course with rookies, but also the vets too. I’m expecting all those guys to do better and they all need to pick it up.”
One thing that Shanahan notes that is consistent with Bourne is his energy. He is regularly seen at practice enthusiastically dancing around, getting his fellow receivers hyped up for what’s to come. Shanahan says he wouldn’t want that to ever change.
“No, definitely not,” Shanahan said. “He smiles no matter what, he’s running around no matter what and he’s come a long way. We’ve always liked KB, he’s got real strong hands and plays very hard.
“Being in the same offense now going into his third year, it’s been a lot easier to move him around and stuff, but he’s having a hell of a camp and we really enjoy him here.”