49ers Could Take Load Off of Christian McCaffrey With 4-Time Pro Bowler

Christian McCaffrey

Getty Christian McCaffrey could get more support in the backfield if the 49ers can sign Dalvin Cook.

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey doesn’t need to eclipse 270 carries again if the team finds the right addition to the backfield.

Four-time Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook remains unsigned, and his talent level arguably exceeds the 49ers’ backup running backs. While Cook didn’t impress with the New York Jets in 2023, the Baltimore Ravens picked him up for the playoffs.

Cook looked like his old self in one Ravens playoff game with a 19-yard run amid limited snaps. In addition, Cook is less than two years removed from his last 1,000-yard season in 2022 with the Minnesota Vikings.

“I’ve got it all,” Cook told KPRC 2’s Aaron Wilson in April. “The tools are still here. I didn’t really get no reps last year. So, the legs are fresh, so the resume speaks for itself.”

The Jets hardly used Cook in 2023 amid 67 carries for 214 yards since the team had Breece Hall back from injury. Minnesota let Cook go before the 2023 season to unload his five-year, $63 million contract.

That’s despite a hefty resume by Cook in his first six seasons with the Vikings. He posted 5,993 yards and 47 touchdowns on the ground plus 221 receptions for 1,794 yards and 5 touchdowns.

49ers Lack RB Depth After Christian McCaffrey

San Francisco could utilize Cook to do a number of the things McCaffrey does as added depth to the backfield. McCaffrey rushed for 1,4959 yards and 14 touchdowns plus 83 receptions for 564 yards and seven touchdowns in 2023.

Neither 49ers backup running back Elijah Mitchell nor Jordan Mason have produced Cook-like numbers in their careers. Mitchell hit 963 yards rushing in 2021, and Mason’s career high is 258 yards in 2022.

The 49ers also added rookie Isaac Guerendo through the draft this year. At Louisville, Guerendo tallied 810 yards and 11 touchdowns plus 22 receptions for 234 yards in 2023.

Cook brought big-play explosiveness to the table with the Vikings, and he arguably could do the same in San Francisco in relief of McCaffrey. The former Florida State star has long runs of 81, 75, 70, and 66 yards in his NFL career.

“I’m still Dalvin Cook. I’m still that guy. For me, I don’t like to toot my own horn. I just like to go out there, put my helmet on and line up on the grass,” Cook told Wilson.

How 49ers Can Afford Dalvin Cook

The running back market didn’t plummet as much this year as it did in 2023 when Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, and Leonard Fournette all got cut over big contracts. That said, Cook may not find a suitor to match his one-year, $7 million Jets contract from 2023.

San Francisco has only $5.11 million in salary cap space, but Cook’s down year and his desire to play for a winner could work in the 49ers’ favor. Cook asked for the Jets to cut him so he could join a playoff team.

“Yeah, you always have to be prepared for the opportunity,” Cook told Wilson. “For me, I’m a veteran in the league. I know what it takes to be successful in this league.”

“I know who Dalvin Cook is and I know how I want to perform and what I want to do,” he added. “Like you said, stay ready, so you ain’t got to get ready.”