In Week 3 of the 2019 NFL season, the Mason Rudolph and the Pittsburgh Steelers torched San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback Jason Verrett. It looked like the former Pro Bowler’s career might be done after he injured his ankle, but now a little over a year later, he is establishing himself as the Niners’ best corner.
With Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams, Emmanuel Moseley, and Ahkello Witherspoon all injured at various points, Verrett has often been called upon this season. He delivered his best performance in the 24-16 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
The 29-year-old finished the game with three tackles, two passes defended, and a huge interception in the end zone that helped keep the Rams at bay.
Verrett — who tore his Achilles during the 2018 season while playing for the Los Angeles Chargers — has worked tirelessly to carve himself a role in the NFL, something San Francisco’s coaches and players have noticed during his time with the team.
“Jason’s the man out there,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the win over Los Angeles. “The way he carries himself, the way he likes to mix it up, he loves playing football, loves the physicality of the game. He’s a great talent in terms of covering. I’m so pumped to have him on our team; I’m just happy for him that he’s been able to get out there again.”
Verrett’s performance caught the attention of the offensive players as well. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has seen the effort Verrett has put in over the last two seasons and was thrilled to see the corner pick off Goff in the end zone, which enabled the offense to start on their 20-yard line rather than at the two.
“It was huge, that was a huge turning point of the game,” Garoppolo said. “The play he made, keeping his feet in bounds, it was a hell of a play. He played great; he’s one of those guys, even if you get down on him if he has a bad day, he comes back the next day and is ready to fight. That’s what I really respect about the guy.”
Free safety Jimmie Ward, who was beaten by Rams receiver Josh Reynolds during the play that led to the interception, couldn’t thank Verrett enough for bailing him out.
“I was the happiest person in the world,” the free safety said. “I had inside leverage, so I was already out-leveraged... I owe that man a steak dinner.”
Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will have to make some tough decisions if Sherman can come back. Moseley played well in his return to the lineup, which gives the Niners three viable options to start at corner. Sherman and Moseley helped San Francisco make the Super Bowl last season, but if Verrett keeps up his level of play, it will be tough for the 49ers’ coaching staff not to start him at one of the corner spots.
We will see what happens if Sherman can fully recover from his calf strain, but after all of the injuries the 49ers’ defense has suffered through this season, Verrett has been a revelation.
Who do you think will be the starting corners if Sherman is able to return to the lineup?