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5 things to know about 49ers 4th-round pick WR Jacob Cowing

Apr 27, 2024 at 1:35 PM

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The San Francisco 49ers added more help to their wide receiver room on Saturday with the selection of University of Arizona wide receiver Jacob Cowing, who was chosen with the final pick (135 overall) in Round 4 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Cowing brings the 49ers a potentially explosive option at slot receiver and is a possible option to replace free-agent departure Ray-Ray McCloud in the return game. Here's a look at what to know about Cowing as he starts his time with the 49ers.

Where he fits

Cowing is the second receiver the 49ers selected in the 2024 NFL Draft, joining first-round pick Ricky Pearsall. Cowing joins a stacked receiver room that includes Pearsall, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Jauan Jennings, Chris Conley, Danny Gray, Trent Taylor, Tay Martin, and Ronnie Bell.

As was the case with Taylor in 2017, Cowing comes to the 49ers as an undersized (5-8, 168) but productive player who could factor in as a slot receiver and return specialist. Cowing also brings high-end speed (4.38 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine).

The assumption right now is the 49ers will have both Aiyuk and Samuel on the roster in 2024, which means there are four roster spots spoken for between Aiyuk, Samuel, Pearsall, and Jennings. Cowing will be among a spirited competition for the other spots and could find an edge if he proves to be one of the team's top options in the return game.

Production in buckets

Over the course of his five-year college career, Cowing had a total of 316 catches for 4,477 yards and 33 touchdowns. Most of that production came at the University of Texas-El Paso, where Cowing caught 141 passes for 2595 yards and 13 touchdowns over three seasons. He set a career-high for yardage (1,354) with the Miners in 2021 while catching 69 passes and seven touchdowns.

Cowing transferred to Arizona for the 2022 season and responded with 85 catches for 1,034 yards and seven touchdowns. His yardage went down as a senior in 2023 (848 yards), but he set career highs with 90 receptions and 13 touchdowns. Cowing also rushed for 102 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown over his college career and returned 18 punts for 121 yards and two kicks for 11 yards with Arizona.

Cowing's list of accolades is long. He was a second-team All-Conference USA player in 2021 and a first-team All-Conference USA player in 2021. He won All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors in 2022 and 2023 and was named the offensive MVP of the Alamo Bowl to close his career after totaling 152 yards and two touchdowns.

As a standout at Maricopa High School in Arizona, Cowing caught 89 passes for 2,065 yards and 21 touchdowns.

The best reason to transfer

Why did Cowing leave UTEP despite the success he was having? The reason is simple -- he wanted to be closer to his son, Chase.

"It was killing me being away from my kid," Cowing told The Athletic in 2022. "After those three seasons, I just couldn't take it anymore. It was eating at me each and every day, and no one knew about it."

Chase's mother went into labor when Cowing was playing in a game against UAB in 2019, and Cowing wasn't able to make it back to Arizona in time for his son's birth. Cowing continued his career at UTEP, motivated to create a better future for his son, but eventually he decided he missed too many moments in his son's growth to be away from him any longer.

"I wasn't there when he said his first word," he told The Athletic. "That killed me, obviously. I just want to see more and more of those achievements. And I want to see them in person, not over the phone or getting a text message."

A crazy coincidence

Why did Cowing name his son Chase? In 2022, he told the reason.

"It's kind of a crazy story," Cowing said. "When I was running track my freshman year of high school, there was a guy named Chase who ran for Chandler High School. He was crazy fast, and I kind of wanted to name (my son) after him, and I've always liked the name Chase growing up. I always told my parents if I ever have a son, I'm naming him Chase.

"Plus, he's kind of fast, so people have to chase him, so it was a hand-in-hand type of thing. … I'm not sure if knows, but if he did know that, I think he would find it pretty cool and I think he would appreciate it a lot for sure."

The Chase in question that Cowing named his son after is defensive back Chase Lucas, who played at Arizona State before landing in the NFL. After beginning his career with the Detroit Lions, Lucas signed with the 49ers earlier this year.

Lucas found out about Cowing's story not long after it was published, tweeting that it was a privilege to be the namesake of Cowing's son. And now, two years later, the two of them will have the chance to be teammates.

Steve Smith says

Steve Smith Sr. was a little undersized as an NFL receiver (5-9), but he didn't let that stop him from forging a likely Hall of Fame career. Smith took a look at Cowing's highlights and broke down the positives and negatives in the following video:

"The way he sees the field and how he plays, he can add to your team because of his explosiveness with the football," Smith said. "I love also -- he's tough because he got put in some unique positions and got up after the hit."

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