National Champ & Brother of Pro Bowl RB Says 49ers Have Talked to Him


Getty Members of the Georgia Bulldogs James Cook, George Pickens (middle) and Matt Landers celebrate a touchdown against Georgia Tech on November 30, 2021.

When looking at the San Francisco 49ers and their draft needs, there hasn’t been much mention of the team needing to bolster the running back position. Understandable, considering the team discovered a sixth round surprise in Elijah Mitchell last draft and also took Trey Sermon in the third round of the same class.

However, that hasn’t prevented the 49ers from talking to one notable running back.

This incoming rookie isn’t just entering the NFL Scouting Combine at Indianapolis as a 2021 season National Champion from the University of Georgia. He’s also the younger brother of a three-time Pro Bowler.

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James Cook has Spoken to 49ers, he Says

James Cook, per Jason Aponte of the Sprint Right Option Podcast, confirmed he has had conversations with the 49ers during the week of the combine.

Cook has a renown older brother who’s the face of the Minnesota Vikings backfield: Dalvin Cook.

The older Cook has spent his last three seasons putting up Pro Bowl numbers — rushing for more than 1,000 yards each season including the 1,557 he put up in 2020. He has 4,820 career rushing yards through his first five seasons and has scored 42 combined touchdowns according to Pro Football Reference.

Dalvin Cook starred at Florida State where he became a decorated 1,000-yard back and a receiving option in Tallahassee, leaving FSU after three stellar seasons. The younger Cook showed similar versatility, but had a much different collegiate career.

Cook played four football seasons in Athens. His best season wasn’t until his final season though…which saw 728 rushing yards, 7 touchdowns and of course, winning the title over defending champion Alabama. Cook averaged 12.8 yards a carry that January 10 evening in Indianapolis against the Crimson Tide defense, which includes this run he broke off:

He also proved his receiver side against Michigan during the College Football Playoffs:

And now, there’s the good chance that Cook will follow his brother’s footsteps and get selected by an NFL franchise. Cook was asked during combine week to compare himself with his star brother.

“Just how he moves with the ball in his hands and he can make guys miss. We kind of critique that of each other and make each other better,” Cook said via Vikings reporter Eric Smith.

Cook, however, already wants to cement his own legacy in the league.

“As I get older, I can see myself being one of the top guys in the league,” Cook said.

Is There Room for Cook?

As mentioned earlier, the 49ers took two running backs in last year’s draft and both became immediate contributors to the 49ers’ run-first, zone blocking scheme.

There’s also general manager John Lynch addressing the situation involving free agent Raheem Mostert, telling reporters that he would love to see Mostert return for another season but is aware of the risk/rewards given the 29-year-old’s injury history.

However, there’s still some uncertainty involving the backfield depth…which is the likely reason why the ‘Niners and Cook met with one another.

Along with Mostert, the 49ers also have Jeff Wilson, Trenton Cannon and JaMycal Hasty as free agents for the 2022 cycle that officially begins March 16. Hasty is the only one who’s listed as an exclusive rights free agent.

Cook has been called a “change-of-pace runner with vision and flow but a lack of functional play strength” by draft expert Lance Zierlein in his scouting report. He also added “he’s missing big brother’s build” and projects him to be an above-average backup in the league.

In the event Cook isn’t selected or signed by the 49ers, former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel may like this about Cook: He’s a fan of the team McDaniel will soon coach.

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