49ers select Arizona WR Jacob Cowing with No. 135 pick

49ers select Arizona WR Jacob Cowing with No. 135 pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SANTA CLARA — Wide receiver Ricky Pearsall has the ability to return punts.

But the 49ers are not necessarily thinking along those lines because of what he is expected to contribute on offense.

The 49ers on Saturday invested the final pick of the fourth round in Arizona slot receiver Jacob Cowing, who has an opportunity to become the team’s primary return man while also bringing a potential matchup advantage to their multi-receiver sets.

Cowing (5-foot-8, 168 pounds) ran a time of 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. The 49ers brought him to their team facility recently for a Top-30 visit.

Cowing had an ultra-productive college career. He spent his first three seasons at Texas-El Paso, where he caught 69 passes for 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns in 2021.

He transferred to Arizona, where he caught 175 passes for nearly 1,900 yards and 20 touchdowns in his final two seasons of college ball. He was the only player in major college football last season to catch 90 passes for 12 or more touchdowns.

Cowing adds to the competition at wide receiver behind starters Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.

The 49ers selected Pearsall with the No. 31 overall pick. Jauan Jennings has served as the 49ers’ No. 3 receiver over the past three seasons.

Cowings joins the competition with Trent Taylor, Ronnie Bell, Chris Conley, Danny Gray and Tay Martin — the other receivers currently on the 49ers’ roster.

Cowing received pre-draft comparisons to Tank Dell, who caught 47 passes for 709 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie for the Houston Texans in a similar offensive scheme.

He figures to have a chance to make an immediate contribution on special teams on punt returns, though he returned just 18 punts for 121 yards over the past two seasons. The 49ers recently signed Taylor, who has extensive NFL experience handling punts.

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