The 49ers have signed former Louisville tight end Cole Hikutini to an undrafted free agent contract.
The tight end will leave Louisville as one of its most productive threats in the passing game. He lead the team in 2016 in both receptions (50) and touchdown receptions (8), while second on the team in receiving yards (668). The 6’4” Hikutini had a slow start in his first year playing for the Cardinals, logging 19 receptions for 348 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino quickly found a way to utilize the vertical threat.
Hikutini was another “hidden gem” that Petrino found to plug in to his offense. Cole made his way to the ‘Ville via the JUCO route, where the Sacramento, California, product originally started his playing career at City College of San Fransisco.
Scouts love Hikutini’s size and his ability to run routes well and get linebackers/safeties out of position. He’s able to run the seam routes well, able to accelerate and get separation from defenders to make it easier on the quarterback, and has very good hands. Cole is also a big threat in goal line situations, where he is able to grab and bring down the 50/50 balls.
The big thing that NFL teams want Hikutini to improve upon is his physicality and toughness as a blocker. He’ll also need to work on getting a little stronger so he doesn’t get the ball stripped from him in the NFL.
Best of luck to Cole in the NFL!