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Is Jauan Jennings the New Kendrick Bourne... or Better?

Jauan Jennings has taken over the role Kendrick Bourne left behind, but can he be even better than the former 49ers wide receiver?

Jauan Jennings started the season on the bench for the 49ers, in Weeks 1-9 Jennings played in 20 total plays with drop back passes and 4 targets. Since Week 10 (vs the Rams) he has 33 targets over 9 games.

He set career highs across the board and jumped off the screen against the Rams on Sunday.

While the 49ers have three established targets in their rotation with Aiyuk, Kittle, and Deebo, there has always been a question of who should that next receiver in the rotation.

Early in the season Mohamed Sanu was getting that opportunity - but Sanu went to IR November 8th (leading up to Week 10) and since then Jennings has taken full advantage of that opportunity.

On the season Jennings lined up in the slot on 59% of his snaps with the only other Niner having a higher rate being Mohamed Sanu and he has just been better. After being a seventh round pick and not playing much at all in 2020 he has taken over the void that Kendrick Bourne left.

With the Niners production (and health) at receiver they don’t need to rely on a Bourne type player as much – still it’s an important role. But with Jennings they have someone who might already be better than Bourne was initially.

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In Bourne’s first season he finished with 212 snaps on passing downs, 31 targets, 257 yards, 0 touchdowns – this season Jennings finished with 212 snaps on passing downs, 37 targets, 282 yards, 5 touchdowns.

Jennings and Bourne are different stylistically but in terms of production Jennings can take over that role and he might be better. He also adds a component in the run game that makes him more valuable.

Jennings has also been excellent in the run game, his 6’3 frame allows him to be one of the best in the league at this. Jennings finished the season with an 84.9 run blocking grade which ranks second among WRs (minimum 100 snaps) and ranks third on the 49ers behind only Trent Williams and Tom Compton.

Jennings had a career day against the Rams and is firmly that third receiver Shanahan has been looking for. His reliability in the run game makes him an asset and after getting his opportunity Jennings has taken control of it.

After the game on Sunday Jennings spoke on the second touchdown catch that would send the game to overtime.

"Just thinking about the team, putting the team first. If I don't catch it, I'm letting the team down," Jennings said "These guys making plays everywhere else, so when my number gets called on, I put it on myself to go and make a play."

Jennings is not just a feel-good story but a cog in a part of this 49ers offensive machine.