While the arrival of Kirk Cousins has, understandably, gotten most of the attention in Minnesota, the return of running back Dalvin Cook can’t be overlooked.
It certainly was Sunday. Cook, playing his first regular-season game since tearing his left ACL on Oct. 1, 2017 against Detroit, was uneven running the ball, gaining 40 yards on 16 carries. But his receptions helped the Vikings take a 10-0 lead.
Dalvin Cook rushed six times for 22 yards in the first half, including that big run of 15 yards at the start of the second quarter. Caught five passes for 47 yards and showed how dangerous he can be on a screen pass with a 17 yard gain. Cook made the 49ers defense look silly up until Fred Warner forced a fumble on a key drive.
“There was nothing I had to prove,” Cook said. “I know the type of player I can be. “The Vikings know all the potential I’ve got … I just have to keep getting better every weekend … keep living up to it, which I am,” Cook added.
“I thought he had some good runs,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “Sometimes there wasn’t anything there, but he ran hard. The one ball he fumbled, that was going to be a great run until he fumbled. He hasn’t had a lot of contact. We’ll get some more. I think this game will help him a lot.”
The game’s first play was a pass from Kirk Cousins to Cook for 9 yards, and the third play a completion to Cook for 12 yards. He had five catches for 47 yards by halftime, when Minnesota led 10-3. “I’m happy with catching the football,” Cook said. “(Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo), he’s got 100 percent trust in me to catch the football, so you can see he got me the ball a lot of times. … The screen was effective.”
That Cook was capable of such a big day isn’t a surprise. He became Florida State’s all-time leading rusher in just three seasons, and rushed for more yards than Adrian Peterson did in his first game with the Vikings. But the recovery from a knee injury, especially for a running back, can be a crapshoot.