49ers Urged to Bring Back Former WR in Free Agency

The San Francisco 49ers have plenty of questions to answer regarding wide receiver, and they could find an answer with a free agency reunion.

While the 49ers boast a stacked group of weapons, there is the potential for a shake-up in the WR group.

With Brandon Aiyuk due for a huge second contract, Deebo Samuel already being paid at an elite level and Jauan Jennings set to test free agency, there’s a lot on the table.

If Aiyuk or Jennings or both are on their way out, Yahoo’s Kyle Madson believes the 49ers should pursue New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne.

“This one is entirely dependent on how the 49ers operate with their receiving corps,” Madson wrote on February 24.

“If they retain both Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings then it’s unlikely they go to free agency for what would ostensibly be a fourth WR. However, if they trade Aiyuk or lose Jennings in restricted free agency, adding a reliable veteran like Bourne would give their receiving corps an immediate boost.”

Bourne is a familiar face for 49ers fans, having spent four seasons with the team. While he has plied his trade with the Patriots for the past three years, he’s now available once again.

As someone who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent, it’s remarkable how Bourne’s career has panned out. He worked his way into a significant role with the 49ers before earning himself a three-year, $15 million deal with New England.

His first year with the Patriots in 2021 was the best of his career. According to Pro Football Reference, he caught 55 passes for 800 yards and five touchdowns and immediately looked like a slam dunk signing.

However, his production has halved over the past two years. That is partially due to injury, and partially due to the Patriots’ offensive issues and QB play. Bourne made 16 appearances in 2022 but only caught 35 passes for 434 yards.

In 2023, Bourne only made 8 appearances but caught 37 passes for 406 yards and 4 touchdowns. Had he not torn his ACL in Week 8, he would’ve been on pace for his best year yet.

Is Bourne Worth It for 49ers?
That ACL tear is the big question mark with a move for Bourne. San Francisco knows what they’re getting with the 28-year-old, but how he recovers from that remains to be seen.

Spotrac projects a three-year, $14.66 million deal for Bourne. Essentially, it’s the same deal as what the Patriots just paid him. If Bourne is able to hit numbers close to his 2021 season, that’s tremendous value for that level of pay.

It’s also worth mentioning that Bourne may actually end up being cheaper than Jauan Jennings despite Jennings having produced far less. Due to Jennings being a restricted free agent, San Francisco will either have to match other teams’ contract offers or extend him outright.

What Jennings wants out of his next contract is the first step. But if the 26-year-old receiver does want a change of pace, Bourne is probably a safe, cheap bet as a replacement.



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