SANTA CLARA — When looking at which wide receivers will make the 49ers' final 53-man roster, it appears that the choice for the final spot could be between Kendrick Bourne and Jordan Matthews.
Bourne finished the 49ers' 27-24 loss to the Chargers with one completion on three targets for a touchdown. Unfortunately for Bourne, the score came after dropping a pass from C.J. Beathard that hit him in the hands.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has mentioned repeatedly that he is looking for consistency from his receiving corps. While Bourne has improved from last year, he still has a lot to prove to the coaching staff.
“That’s not the most consistent right there but drops from Bourne haven’t been too much of a problem.” Shanahan said. “I do consider Bourne having some of the better hands on our team, so that’s definitely one that he should have had, and it hurt a drive. I think we went three-and-out on that drive but he’s earned a little bit more with that in terms of how good his hands are."
After the game Bourne expressed disappointment about the drop, but was confident about the remainder of his play in the game.
“I felt good about it, but want that drop back,” Bourne said. “Felt good on special teams too. I could have done better like always, but I felt good with how much time I had to play.”
Special teams are something that Matthews has not done a lot of, but he understands that it could help him earn a spot on the roster. He was the gunner facing the Chargers, something hasn’t done since he his college days at Vanderbilt.
“I don’t think since I was a freshman at Vandy,” Matthews said. “But I worked in practice some when I was in New England and some with the Eagles. It’s really been mostly practice but I got some game reps when we were in Denver so it’s not new as far as game speed.”
Over four games, Matthews finished the preseason catching three of his five targets for 45 yards. Shanahan has said that Matthews is a known quantity that doesn’t need to prove what he is capable of on the field but he has challenged him on special teams.
“I feel like it’s natural for a receiver to just come off the line, getting out of a jam,” Matthews said. “And then I played free safety in high school so tackling isn’t like a hard thing, tracking, and going and bringing a guy down is not overwhelming to me.”
After the game Shanahan confirmed that the decisions at wide receiver didn't get much clarity especially with rookie Jalen Hurd’s uncertain availability in Week 1 against Tampa Bay.
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“It’s not,” Shanahan said. “There’s a lot of things up in the air, especially with some of these injuries that have been a little more serious that we’ve found out over the last week than we thought previously.
“It still is up in the air. We’ve got to decide on whether we’re going to go with six, whether we’re going to go with seven and it’s something we are going to be looking into hard over these next 48 hours.”