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Chris Cook injury: What it means for Dontae Johnson and moving forward

The 49ers placed Chris Cook on injured reserve over the weekend. We consider the implications for Dontae Johnson and the rest of the cornerbacks.

Justin Edmonds

Over the weekend, the San Francisco 49ers placed cornerback Chris Cook on injured reserve, ending his season with what Matt Barrows described as a torn hamstring. Cook's injury leaves the 49ers cornerback depth chart with Perrish Cox, Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, Dontae Johnson and defensive back Jimmie Ward.

The loss of Cook opens the door for Johnson to some extent. Cook had 19 snaps in Week 6, and 5 snaps in Week 7. In those same games, Johnson had 23 snaps and 37 snaps. This followed three straight games in which Johnson was only playing special teams. Although it is hard to tell exactly how Johnson and Cook were situated on the depth chart, at times the last two weeks it felt like Johnson was starting to move past Cook. Whatever the case, he is past Cook on the depth chart for the rest of the 2014 season.

The question now is how the depth chart shakes out with players getting healthy. Tramaine Brock returned in Week 7, and while he was still rusty, he got plenty of reps. Chris Culliver was out with shoulder and hamstring issues, and had the bye week to get healthy. Jimmie Ward suffered a quadricep injury in Week 6, and sat out Week 7. It remains to be seen when he will be back, but Wednesday will tell us a bit more with the first practice participation report.

Once we know what to make of Culliver and Ward, we can better assess the depth chart. Cox and maybe Brock would seemingly get slot work if Ward cannot play. Johnson is looking like a dime option for now, but I'm not entirely sure how much defensive playing time he will get if the 49ers get all their other cornerbacks back on the field.

The other question in my mind is what happens with Chris Cook this offseason. He signed a 1-year deal, and while it has ended prematurely, and he did not get a ton of playing time, he seemed to show some signs of his talent. Ed Donatell appears to be a great coach, and it would not surprise me if the 49ers worked to bring back Cook for another year. With Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox due to hit free agency, there could be some opportunities in the secondary. And considering the injury, Cook could end up coming back for close to the league minimum.