Chris Cook certainly didn’t look like someone seeking his first NFL interception during Monday’s practice at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers cornerback, who was filling in for injured Chris Culliver, came up with two interceptions, including a dazzling, diving effort in the end zone on a long pass from backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Cook also victimized Josh Johnson on a throw to the sideline.
Cook spent four seasons in Minnesota, starting 30 games, but never has had an interception. His lack of ball skills were one of the reasons the Vikings made no effort to retain him when he became a free agent and the 49ers were able to sign him to a league-minimum deal in March.
But it’s something Cook has worked on diligently this offseason, especially after practices when he’ll grab backup quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and ask him to put the ball up for grabs.
“I focused on that mainly in the offseason, and I spent a lot of time catching balls and having balls thrown at me, turning my back, then turning to look for the ball,” Cook said. “I spent a lot of time doing that in the offseason, so I think I definitely improved.”
Cook wasn’t the only cornerback with an interception Monday.
Perrish Cox, filling in for Tramaine Brock, picked off a Colin Kaepernick pass with his own diving catch in the end zone while Darryl Morris came down with a long pass from Bethel-Thomspon that was intended for wide receiver Kassim Osgood.
Brock and Culliver are dealing with minor injuries. Cox and Cook have played well in their absences.
Hyde dinged up – Rookie running back Carlos Hyde caused a brief scare when he flubbed a kick return, then had top athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson come and look at his right hand. The two walked off the field together, which, given the 49ers’ other injuries at running back, caused a minor panic on social media.
Five minutes later, however, Hyde was back on the field as if nothing had happened. It seemed he had cut his finger but did not, coach Jim Harbaugh said, though he did lose a fingernail.
“A little bloody around the edges,” he said.
Meanwhile, the 49ers waived/injured Kendall Hunter and signed another running back, Glenn Winston, who played at Michigan State and Northwood. The 49ers can add Hunter, who tore an ACL last month, to injured reserve once he clears waivers, and he will not count against their 90-man limit.
With Hunter, LaMichael James (elbow) and Marcus Lattimore (knee) out with injuries, and with Frank Gore likely to get few if any carries in the preseason, the 49ers need more bodies at running back. Hyde, Jewel Hampton, Alfonso Smith and Winston will get the carries in Thursday’s preseason opener.
Et cetera – New wide receiver L’Damian Washington was issued No. 82, Jonathan Baldwin’s former number, but missed Monday’s practice. Baldwin, meanwhile, was claimed by Detroit after the 49ers waived him Sunday.
• Guard Adam Snyder and safety C.J. Spillman were back at practice after sitting out Sunday’s session.
• Harbaugh said Kaepernick might see one or two series against the Ravens on Thursday.