If Kendrick Bourne was going to leave the 49ers, the wide receiver knew where he wanted to go and where he would fit in.
Bourne signed a four-year contract with the New England Patriots in free agency, packing his bags to head east to a place he'd heard so much about from 49ers wide receivers coach and former Patriots star Wes Welker.
“Yeah, Wes definitely told me -- had a talk with him -- he told me great place, great decision I picked,” Bourne said Monday on a video conference call with reporters. “And how they work hard there. Everything is earned. That was the biggest thing when I heard that, come to a place where you can earn everything, go out there and showcase and earn your keep -- it was a no-brainer.
"He had a lot of stories, a lot of winning stories. A lot of good times there. I learned a lot from that guy in San Francisco and the stories he gave me about New England.”
Bourne, who was a solid No. 3 receiver for the 49ers, is hoping his journey to 1 Patriot Place will give his career the same jolt it did Welker when he arrived in Foxboro after the 2006 season.
In his career, Bourne has caught 137 passes for 1,769 yards with 11 touchdowns. He's coming off a career-year for the injury-ravaged 49ers in which he grabbed 49 passes for 667 yards while playing mostly with backup quarterbacks Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard.
When Welker arrived in New England, he was coming off a season in which caught 67 passes for 687 yards and one touchdown for the Miami Dolphins. The next season, as part of a historic Patriots offense with Tom Brady and Randy Moss, Welker caught 112 passes for 1,175 yards and eight touchdowns.
Of course, Bourne will be catching passes from Cam Newton or someone else in Foxboro next season after Brady left last offseason to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and promptly won his seventh Super Bowl title.
While Newton struggled in 2020, Bourne has faith in the former NFL MVP.
“I think he’s going to ball out,” Bourne said of Newton. “With the weapons they brought in, the help now -- (2020) was just one of those rebuilding years that they went through, and he was a part of it. So people may say (Newton) didn’t look this good, he looked bad or whatever it may be, but now he has some help, and they know what they’re putting around him, which is awesome.
"I just want to be a part of five touchdowns, 10 touchdowns for him and change the narrative.”
Bourne was part of a massive free-agent spending spree for Bill Belichick and the Patriots, joining Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Matthew Judon, Henry Anderson and others who hope to arrive in New England and deliver the Patriots back to the playoffs.
Welker told Bourne all about the Patriot Way, a mantra that not everyone is cut out for. But Bourne believes he can thrive in Bill Belichick's world just as Welker did.