San Francisco 49ers WR Kendrick Bourne cleared to play after COVID-19 testing saga

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- After a turbulent week-plus mixed with multiple positive and negative COVID-19 test results, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne will be available to play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

The Niners announced Friday that Bourne has been activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list for the second time in a week after he met the necessary number of consecutive negative tests to return to the team.

Bourne did not participate in practice Wednesday or Thursday as he awaited clearance to return to the team. He got that clearance Friday morning and took part in the team's final practice of the week, which positions him to play against the Saints.

That role could be a bit limited, though, because Bourne hasn't been around much the past couple of weeks, according to coach Kyle Shanahan.

"Any time you're not here for 10 days and miss two weeks of practice it is an issue, but we are down some receivers so he's going to be up regardless," Shanahan said. "But we've got to be smart with him."

It's been an odd 10 days for Bourne, who first received a positive test result on Nov. 4. He then received negative results in the two days that followed, which allowed him to be activated from the reserve list.

But the 49ers placed him back on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday after he tested positive again. That positive test was followed by multiple negative results, which has now finally allowed him to return to the team.

Earlier this week, the NFL concluded its investigation into potential protocol violations by Bourne and found no wrongdoing. Bourne did not play in last week's game against the Green Bay Packers because of the positive test.

Getting Bourne back is no small thing for the receiver-needy 49ers.

Top wideout Deebo Samuel did not practice this week because of a hamstring injury and has been officially ruled out against the Saints. His return is expected to come for the Nov. 29 game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Two more receivers -- River Cracraft and Trent Taylor -- are listed as questionable for Sunday, as they battle quad and back injuries, respectively.

That leaves just Bourne, rookie Brandon Aiyuk and Richie James Jr. as healthy receivers on the active roster who are certain to be available against the Saints.

Cornerback Richard Sherman, who opened his 21-day practice window this week as he works back from a calf injury, will not be activated this week but is also expected to return against the Rams.

"He did a good job, was able to practice all three days on scout team," Shanahan said. "If we had to do it, we could push it, but it wouldn't be the smartest thing, so we're going to take him into this bye week and feel good about him going against the Rams."