Ex-49ers WR Kendrick Bourne Sends Cryptic Message About Current Team

Kendrick Bourne Brandon Aiyuk

Getty Kendrick Bourne and Brandon Aiyuk celebrate a touchdown on December 7, 2020.

Could a past beloved member of the San Francisco 49ers need a fresher start due to what’s looking more like a diminished role?

Back in 2017, the 49ers — under the new leadership with John Lynch as general manager and Kyle Shanahan as the incoming head coach — took in an undrafted superstar from the Big Sky Conference who racked up more than 1,000 yards his final season playing in a multiple offense: Kendrick Bourne.

The former Eastern Washington star, who was college teammates with future Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Cooper Kupp, then had this trajectory: He went from unknown UDFA, to starter, to NFC champion all the way to $3 million 49ers wideout.

In pressing the fast forward button to 2022, Bourne is now a $15 million New England Patriots wide receiver…with a decrease in playing time.

Now, Bourne sent out a social media post that has sparked conversations about his future in Foxboro — and a post that has the great potential to pique the interest of 49er fans.

What Bourne Posted

Mentioned in this Heavy on Patriots story from Wednesday, September 28, Bourne posted a cryptic message with “Gotta move forward!” as the ending words in his own caption.

Bourne, once paid $3,259,000 in 2020 by the 49ers, has been involved in a mysterious disappearance from the Patriots offense.

In the 37-26 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, September 25, Bourne was limited to just 15 snap counts according to Pro Football Focus who broke it down with this tally: 13 plays out wide and two in the slot receiver spot. That number of plays was less than what Bourne was given against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2, which was 25 plays total included nine at the slot.

Noted by Heavy on Patriots reporter Sam Minton, Bourne is seventh among the Patriots in number of plays for skill position players. He also “makes up less than a quarter of New England’s offensive plays.” And this was a wideout who delivered career-best numbers in his first season as a Pat in 2021: 55 grabs for 800 yards and a career-tying 5 touchdowns.

But now, there’s new speculation that Bourne may not last in his three-year deal he signed with the Patriots with a lesser role surfacing.

Bourne Spoke Out About Lack of Plays

Bourne did speak with NBC Sports Boston after the 11-point loss to the Ravens and got asked about the Pats’ coaching plan with him involved. The 27-year-old downplayed being frustrated with his lack of playing time.

“Yeah, the coaches got the plan,” Bourne said. “I think it works. I can’t say this or that. I’m definitely happy with what I got to do. I would love to play more, but I gotta just keep proving it to the coaches. Game by game. Every time I go in, just making the plays that come so I can try to go out there more. They just got different packages.”

Bourne included this reason: The Patriots wanting to get Lil’ Jordan Humphrey more involved, saying “LJ is a bigger guy so they like to confuse the defense. It’s the coaches’ plan, and I gotta just go with the punches.”

Although, perhaps Josh McDaniels leaving his offensive coordinator post for the Las Vegas Raiders head coaching job may have something to do with Bourne’s lack of involvement. The Patriots also had a highly scrutinized offseason with many wondering who would handle the offensive play-calling…to which head coach Bill Belichick never announced who would succeed McDaniels.

But there’s also this added recipe for a dilemma: The Pats are expected to get Jacobi Meyers back from injury, pointing to Bourne potentially receiving even lesser snaps. So it begs the question: Is the Ex-49ers receiver’s Patriot days numbered?

Room for Possible S.F. Reunion?

During his final season with the 49ers, Bourne was given a total of 448 receiving plays including 220 at his slot spot. He went on to catch 137 passes for 1,769 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in the Bay Area.

While his Patriot career showed early promise, he’s been limited to seven grabs for 115 yards and no touchdowns. That’s an average of 2.3 catches and 38.3 yards per game — way different from the 3.2 grabs and 47.1 yards he averaged in 2021. Mike Reiss of ESPN, who covers the Pats, even stated how Bourne is underutilized.

If Bourne and the 49ers were to attempt a re-linking, it won’t come easy. No wideouts are listed as 2023 unrestricted free agents. However, the 49ers could consider the gamble of making a trade before Halloween 2022 if it means trying to improve from having the third-fewest passing yards so far in 2022.

His future in Foxboro certainly bears more watching. It could mean a “Bourne Re-identity” elsewhere.

Read More