After another season of falling just shy of their ultimate goal—a Super Bowl title—the San Francisco 49ers are now looking ahead to the 2024 season. To achieve their first Super Bowl win in 30 years, they'll put together a roster over the rest of the summer consisting of current players, incoming free agents, undrafted free agents, and, of course, their eight draft picks.

What became interesting about the 49ers entering the 2024 NFL Draft was how exactly they would be looking toward the future. Drafting a Florida wide receiver Ricky Pearsall in the first round at No. 31 overall seemed to make their intentions pretty clear.

Not long after the Super Bowl, the 49ers' All-Pro wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk likewise made it well known how he was feeling, stating that he either wanted to be traded or wanted a new contract. So far, neither of those has happened. The 49ers did, however, sign Jauan Jennings to a new two-year deal worth $15.4 million.

But there's still little certainty for the future when it comes to the 49ers' wide receiver room. After signing Deebo Samuel to a three-year, $71.5 million deal last summer, the team eventually has to account for financial restrictions, right? They can’t sign everybody to major deals.

Samuel and Jennings now have just two years remaining on their deals, potentially, with the decision on Aiyuk still up in the air. So, the Pearsall pick makes a lot of sense when looking at the 49ers' receiver room for the future. But Pearsall wasn't the only receiver drafted by San Francisco in this year's draft. So was Jacob Cowing.

Jacob Cowing is the 49ers' rookie sleeper in 2024

May 10, 2024; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jacob Cowing (83) runs drills during the 49ers rookie minicamp at LeviÕs Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.
Robert Kupbens-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers have a reputation for unearthing hidden gems in the draft, and this year might be no different with their third fourth-round pick, Jacob Cowing, out of the University of Arizona.

Cowing is a speedster that could immediately be a vertical threat for the 49ers' passing game in 2024. At the NFL Combine, he was clocked running a 4.38-second 40-yard dash. His speed and versatility make him dangerous, making him an excellent route runner, per NFL Draft analyst Greg Cosell.

“Natural quickness as a route runner with snap to his breaks,” Cosell wrote. “Explosive out of breaks with burst and velocity. Consistently showed both route quickness and separation quickness at the top of route stem—sudden mover.”

Standing at 5-foot-8, weighing 168 pounds, Cowing won't exactly be the biggest guy on the field. His unique profile, however, makes him an intriguing prospect for head coach Kyle Shanahan, known for his creative offensive schemes.

Cowing started his career at UTEP for three seasons before eventually transferring to Arizona. By his last season with the Miners, he was a 1,000-yard receiver with eight touchdowns from scrimmage. He would still have success while at Arizona, though there were notable differences.

During his 2021 season at UTEP, Cowing averaged an astounding 19.6 yards per reception on 69 catches and showcased his explosive playmaking ability with a 53-yard touchdown run. This contrasts sharply with his 2023 season at Arizona, where he averaged just over nine yards per reception, with six catches of at least 20 yards. Despite these modest numbers (he still had 13 touchdowns), Cowing’s speed and agility make him a promising rookie sleeper for the 49ers that shouldn't be overlooked—especially with their current wide receiver situation. He should find his way onto the field at least in some capacity, either as an addition to the receiver room or as a kick returner.