SANTA CLARA – Coach Kyle Shanahan wants his receivers to remember what it’s like to drop a pass.
He actually wants them during the course of the week to visualize dropping passes.
“Don’t sit there and just picture everything is going to go perfect this week,” Shanahan said. “Picture yourself having another drop again. Know how bad that feels and then think of how you’re going to react to that because if you go out there being, ‘Man I’ve got to be perfect this week and I have another drop,’ you’re going to go into a shell the rest of the game, and we’re going to need you.”
The 49ers had a number of dropped passes on Monday night in the team’s 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night. Depending on the varying degrees of dropped passes, the 49ers failed to latch onto anywhere from five to nine catchable throws from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Young receiver Kendrick Bourne had four receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown. He also had a two-point conversion catch in the fourth quarter. But Bourne had two critical drops – one of which turned into an interception and the other would have resulted in a first down inside the Seattle 10-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Injured linebacker Kwon Alexander consoled Bourne in the locker room following the game.
“Why are you thinking about the ones you dropped?” he asked. “Why aren’t you thinking about the ones you caught?”
Bourne said what bothered him the most was how important his drops were at the time in which they occurred.
“I feel what you’re saying, bro,” Bourne said of Alexander’s support. “But the impact of those plays was what was getting at me.
“Both of them almost got picked the same way. That’s what was really chewing at me. If it was just a drop, I probably wouldn’t have been that upset. But the momentum, the playing coming at me, just knowing what the result could’ve been, that’s why it’s hard for me.”
Shanahan’s point in advising the team’s receivers to think about dropped passes is to prepare them to quickly move past the disappointment so that one bad play does not lead to another and another.
“People do have drops,” Shanahan said. “We have good receivers who don’t drop it a ton. In terms of drops, they had a bad game last week and you’ve got to go out there and not think about that. Every game is a new week.
”I know the first one, if you do have a first one in this game, it’ll be huge and everyone will think about last week, but that will affect how you play. You can’t worry about that stuff. Our guys have good hands. You can’t let one drop lead to another. You’ve got to go out there and be mentally very strong with it.”
Shanahan believes Bourne’s hands are as good as any receiver in the league. Where Bourne struggles, he said, is when he is wide open and begins to think about what he’s going to do after the catch.
“When I’m that open, I tend to not focus on the ball, because I know I’m going to catch it,” Bourne said. “That’s why I’m glad it happened to me now, because now when I get out there, I’ll look it in when I’m wide open. Those are the hardest ones, when I’m wide open. That on me, not being locked in on catching the ball and being too confident.”
Bourne said he believes the drops that happened on Monday can serve as a helpful reminder for him to avoid such mistakes later in the season when the importance of the games magnifies.
“It’s a reminder and it’s humbling,” he said.