Cole, the newest New York Jet, partook in his first NFL action alongside Mike LaFleur in San Francisco last season.
The New York Jets announced the claiming of former San Francisco receiver Matt Cole on Wednesday. Cole, 24, reunites with Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who served as the 49ers’ passing game coordinator last season.
Cole emerged from Division II McKendree, where he earned a reputation as a superstar in yardage. His total tally of 3,583 all-purpose yards over four seasons was good for fourth all-time in program history. He ended his career by setting single season marks with 939 receiving yards and 12 touchdown receptions.
That senior season was also punctuated by a strong showing in the return game, where Cole had 208 yards on 26 returns. He also registered 18 tackles on special teams, earning the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Year honor, as well as an appearance for his receiving efforts on the all-conference team.
The Chicago native began last season on the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad. As an undrafted free agent, he was the first McKendree alum to appear in an NFL system. He remained on the Dolphins’ practice squad for most of the season, save for a stint on the COVID-19 list in November. The 49ers signed Cole to their active roster in December and he made his regular season debut in their final game of the season just over a week later. In a narrow loss to Seattle, Cole had two special teams tackles. San Francisco released Cole on May 4 but he has now been claimed by New York.
Cole joins a Jets receiving corps that added veterans Corey Davis and Keelan Cole as well as rookie Elijah Moore through the draft. Incumbents Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims likewise return. He could well compete for the Jets’ primary returning duties, likely set to compete with incumbents Corey Ballentine and Braxton Berrios.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags