3 free agents 49ers absolutely need after 2022 NFL Draft moves

Center JC Tretter #64 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Center JC Tretter #64 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Jared Cook, Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Jared Cook (87) Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers free-agent target No. 2: Tight end Jared Cook

At this stage of his career, 35-year-old veteran tight end Jared Cook is nowhere close to being the Pro Bowl-caliber player he was just a few years ago. He was, however, still productive enough in his one-and-only season with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021, though, notching a respectable 48 catches for 564 yards and four touchdowns over 16 games, 10 of them starts.

The 49ers already have their top tight end in George Kittle, but it’s no secret head coach Kyle Shanahan has long sought a complementary tight end to pair with the All-Pro. The closest thing Shanahan had to boasting this kind of one-two punch at the position was in 2020 when both Kittle and now-retired Jordan Reed were gracing the field.

Except injuries got in the way of either player benefiting the other for extended periods of time.

At any rate, the Niners completely avoided the tight end position amid what was generally viewed as a weak 2022 NFL Draft class, meaning returnees Ross Dwelley and Charlie Woerner are the only tight end options to support Kittle right now.

Despite his age and the likelihood of a declining career, Cook is still an upgrade over Dwelley and Woerner, especially in the pass-catching department.

With quarterback Trey Lance needing as many weapons as he can get heading into his first full year as a starter, adding Cook on the cheap certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea.