Why Jason Verrett could be 49ers comeback player of the year
Coming off several injury filled seasons, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jason Verrett could just find himself being the Niners comeback player of the year… if he stays healthy.
The signing of cornerback Jason Verrett by the San Francisco 49ers is either one you love, or one you hate.
Lacking depth and wanting to create some competition among the position group during training camp, the Niners signed Verrett to a one-year prove-it deal worth $3.6 million.
Verrett has been injury plagued since the San Diego Chargers drafted him 25th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. Going right back to his rookie year, Verrett suffered labrum and rotator cuff tears, limiting him to just six games.
The following year, 2015, was Verrett’s most productive, where he stayed healthy for 14 games and had a total of 47 combined tackles, including two for a loss and one quarterback hit. He had three interceptions, which he returned for a total of 68 yards and one touchdown. Along with 12 passes defended.
During his one standout season, Verrett proved why he was a first-round pick, scoring a 90.9 coverage grade, per Pro Football Focus, with a passer rating allowed of 82.9. This, being the likely reason for the 49ers providing him a lifeline with the opportunity to launch a comeback this season.
2016 saw Verrett play just four games after succumbing to a partial ACL tear, while 2017 was even worse, suiting up for just one game, thanks to continuing issues with his knee. And the injury woes unfortunately didn’t end there. Verrett suffered a torn Achilles during his 2018 training camp, which saw him sit out the entire season.
With the Chargers not willing to risk a further contract with Verrett — rightfully so, I must add — he fell into the lap of the 49ers during free agency.
Verrett has the skills and ability to be an elite corner in the NFL, he just needs some luck on his side and the capacity to stay healthy. And, with the 49ers cleaning house during the offseason and hiring a whole new staff of strength and conditioning coaches, this will be his best chance.
“I know I’m a top corner in this league when I’m healthy,” Verrett said during his initial media presser. “I’ve got to prove it. The 49ers gave me an opportunity to do that.”
He is amazing in coverage and has the potential to shut down plays, thanks largely to his phenomenal speed. Verrett ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash during the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, along with a 6.69-second three-cone drill and a 4.00-second 20-yard shuttle.
While at the time Verrett had elite speed, with the injuries to his ACL and Achilles, how much speed has since been washed away is something only time will tell.
With cornerback Richard Sherman a lock at left corner, Verrett’s main competition for the right corner position will come from Ahkello Witherspoon. During his 2017 rookie year, Witherspoon looked to be someone the 49ers could rely on into the future given the impressive performance he put forward.
However, following a disappointing 2018, the position is Witherspoon’s to lose.
I suspect Verrett will come out firing on all cylinders looking to secure a starting role opposite Sherman, with a potential further contract on offer by the 49ers should he meet or succeed expectations for the upcoming season.
With the 49ers requiring their secondary to step up this year, I for one will be in Verrett’s corner cheering him on in the hope he has a successful season.