49ers

Kendrick Bourne rebounds from big Week 1 mistake with TD in 49ers' win

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AP

Kendrick Bourne rebounds from big Week 1 mistake with TD in 49ers' win

SANTA CLARA -- It was a difficult week for Kendrick Bourne, who earned a lot of respect from his 49ers teammates in the aftermath of making a critical mistake.

In the 49ers’ season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, everyone saw quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo throw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. What nobody knew until Bourne spoke up was that the quarterback wasn't responsible.

Bourne ran the wrong route, and Garoppolo threw the pass to where the receiver was supposed to be. Instead, the only person there was Vikings rookie cornerback Mike Hughes.

Despite Bourne's blunder, he received a lot of praise during the week for being a stand-up teammate.

“I heard that a lot this week,” Bourne said Sunday after the 49ers’ 30-27 victory over the Detroit Lions at Levi’s Stadium. “I’m glad I did that. Jimmy told me, ‘You don’t have to do that,’ and I said, ‘No, man, that was my fault.’ You know what I’m saying? That was my fault.”

This week, there was a better result when Garoppolo targeted Bourne.

Coach Kyle Shanahan installed a play this week in which the 49ers had five receivers on the field. Three were lined up on the right side in a bunch formation, and Dante Pettis lined up on the left side. Bourne was in the backfield, offset to the left.

Pettis ran a slant and had four Lions defenders around him, leaving Bourne to run a route out of the backfield. He was all alone to catch a 4-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo. It was Bourne's only reception of the game.

“It was designed to create confusion, and they couldn’t pick it up,” Bourne said. “That’s why I was so wide open."

The play resulted in the 49ers’ first touchdown after a failed red-zone opportunity at the end of their first drive of the game.

“It was good,” Garoppolo said. “K.B., the guy comes to work every day. He’s a grinder. I appreciate that. We had a good week of practice. We’ve been working on that play, and we got a good result out of it.”

Afterward, Garoppolo sought out Bourne on the sideline to compliment him on bouncing back to make a positive difference.

“That play was eating at me last week," Bourne said. "I just was just focused on my details this game. I wasn’t locked in for that one play last week, and it turned into a big play. So it was a wake-up call. You have to be on everything, because you never know when those plays are going to be called. I have to be on top of all of it.”

How Emmanuel Sanders trade helped 49ers, likely hurt Patriots' offense

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USATSI

How Emmanuel Sanders trade helped 49ers, likely hurt Patriots' offense

Two of the NFL’s best teams in 2019, the New England Patriots and 49ers, both faced a similar problem as the trade deadline approached.

The seemingly well-oiled machines had identified an identical issue: A lack of consistent play from the wide receivers.

While both teams attempted to rectify their passing-game issues at the deadline -- the 49ers dealt a pair of draft picks to the Denver Broncos for Emmanuel Sanders while the Patriots used a second-round pick to acquire Mohamed Sanu from Atlanta -- the results weren’t exactly analogous for the two contenders.

Sanders just completed a dominant performance in New Orleans, catching seven passes for 157 yards and a touchdown -- he threw for one, too. Meanwhile, Sanu caught just one pass for 13 yards in Week 14 as New England suffered a home loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Since Oct. 22, the day both players found their new homes, Sanders is averaging 10.44 receiving yards per target. Sanu? The former Falcon is averaging just 4.66 yards per target.

The 49ers reportedly balked at the price Atlanta wanted for Sanu, but the Patriots might have been better off bringing Sanders in, according to The Athletic’s Mike Sando.

"Sanu has been a solid receiver for a long time, but not as much of a downfield threat. Over the past four seasons, Sanders holds a 67-44 edge over Sanu in passes gaining more than 15 yards, despite Sanu playing four additional games. Sanu could have been a natural fit in San Francisco given that Shanahan was previously his offensive coordinator in Atlanta. He might even be flourishing there, given San Francisco’s superior surrounding talent, including George Kittle. The fit has been questionable in New England.”

The 49ers also have an obvious advantage in fielding George Kittle, who continues to cement his status as one of the NFL’s top tight-ends week in and week out.

[RELATED: Where 49ers, Raiders stand in NFL power rankings now]

But imagine what Josh McDaniels, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady could have whipped up with Emmanuel Sanders stretching the field.

This might go down as a rare mistake in player personnel from the Patriots’ front office, and it also might just be the move that propels the 49ers into playing February football.

Chris Simms breaks down George Kittle's catch in 49ers' win vs. Saints

Chris Simms breaks down George Kittle's catch in 49ers' win vs. Saints

George Kittle made the most significant play of the NFL’s Week 14 slate, catching a short fourth-down pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and willing his way into field-goal range.

The herculean effort from Kittle set kicker Robbie Gould up for a game-winning 30-yard field goal to give San Francisco a crucial 48-46 victory in New Orleans that propelled the 49ers back to the top of the NFC standings.

Unsurprisingly, coach Kyle Shanahan diagrammed this play for Kittle to be the No. 1 option, and that’s exactly what happened.

“The rookie [C.J.] Gardner-Johnson is matched up 1-on-1 with Kittle,” NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms said. “The beauty of this play is, a lot of times the 49ers will run an in-breaking route off of this, but here he had the option to break out and he breaks out.

“Gardner-Johnson, who’s kind of laying inside for it, now is at a disadvantage and he’s trailing behind and that becomes the completion to George Kittle.”

[RELATED: Injuries continue to pile up for 49ers after extended trip]

Kittle’s wise decision to break outside put San Francisco back into the driver’s seat for the NFC playoffs, but the 49ers will need to keep the momentum going as the final weeks of the season roll on in order to secure the home-field advantage NFL teams so desperately crave come postseason time.