clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Shanahan weighs the 49ers' options at cornerback; hopes to get Verrett up to speed

He also hopes Moseley returns next year

Washington Football Team v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 49ers lost cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to an ACL injury for the season. He’ll be back, and, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan, that’s the plan next year.

“I have not gotten the chance to, he’s been away today, but I know he knows how I feel. I’ve told him that before, before the injury, so and I know I feel the same, if not stronger, so it was a real sad, unfortunate thing to happened to him. He was playing his ass off too and he’s going to be very missed this year and I really hope to have him back next year.”

Moseley was on pace for a career-high in pass breakups, tackles, and tackles for loss. His average depth of tackle was under a yard, which is incredible for a cornerback. he was also among the league leaders at cornerback for forced incompletions, a stat that Charvarius Ward leads.

So how will the 49ers replace Moseley? Here’s Shanahan:

“We have multiple options as you know. Guys were in that position last year. We also have [CB] Dontae [Johnson], a veteran who’s done it before. We got young guys as you guys saw, with [CB Samuel] Womack [III] as a possibility. And you guys saw [CB] Ambry [Thomas] hold that role pretty good last year towards the end of the year. So we’ll figure it out this week, but we haven’t made our mind up yet.”

Once Moseley left the game, Deommodore Lenoir moved outside, and Samuel Womack played in the slot. As Shanahan said above, that might be different with a week of practice to prepare.

One obvious option includes Jason Verrett, who tore his ACL roughly 13 months ago. To me, the plan was to give Verrett another month to fully recover, get up to speed, and ease him into playing.

Injuries could force the 49ers' hand and lead them to play Verrett sooner than expected. Here’s Shanahan on the potential of Verrett returning as a starter:

“If Verrett’s good to go, he’s a big-time corner, so if Verrett can get these practice reps and get out there and get fully healed and get back into game shape and ready to go, he’ll end up being our guy.”

Those words come off as Shanahan and the team not ready to rush Verrett. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t give Verrett an opportunity if he proves he’s ready to play:

“Oh, I’m definitely not putting it past him. J.V. is, I’m sure you guys have seen a little bit of him just being around him, he is he is a very impressive person and he’s gone through as much bad things in his career that he has continually had to try to overcome. And man, playing the whole year in 2020 and the type of year he had before all the things that happened before that was unbelievable.

And he, again, had the setback the next year in Week 1 versus Detroit and he’s been working like he always has to come back from that. And he’s done the work to where he is healthy enough to get into practice now, but we just need him to practice some so he can make sure that he can hold up through everything and get his skillset back. And if he does do that, I think you guys know just like most of the people in this league know how good of a corner J.V. is.”

The schedule could also determine when Verrett returns to the field. The team has the Falcons this week, then the Chiefs and Rams before a bye. It’d be nice to get Verrett on the field against a high-octane offense like Kansas City, but you wouldn’t fault the Niners for wanting to wait until after the bye week, either — especially considering the lack of explosiveness we’re seeing from the Rams.

Whoever starts will likely receive a healthy number of targets, as Mooney Ward is having one of the best seasons at cornerback out of anybody so far this year:

Forced incompletions are essentially any play where the cornerback was on a target. Ward has the most and the highest percentage, all while being among the league leaders in yards per target. He’s been nothing short of spectacular this season.