SF 49ers news: Jason Verrett injured again, cornerback depth an issue

Jason Verrett #27 of the San Francisco 49ers defends Artie Burns #25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Jason Verrett #27 of the San Francisco 49ers defends Artie Burns #25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

SF 49ers general manager John Lynch told KNBR cornerback Jason Verrett suffered a hamstring injury during training camp, testing the position’s depth.

The SF 49ers were feeling pretty good about oft-injured veteran cornerback Jason Verrett taking the field at 100-percent capacity early in 2020 after the 29 year old saw just two snaps last season amid another lost year.

But that was before general manager John Lynch told KNBR 680’s Murph and Mac Show Thursday morning that Verrett suffered a hamstring injury during the winding-down days at training camp.

An MRI has been scheduled to reveal the extent of the injury.

Verrett previously appeared to be a prime candidate for the No. 2 boundary role opposite Richard Sherman at the beginning of the season. Multiple reports throughout camp suggested Verrett had bounced back from the injury-plagued season he endured in 2019, which limited him to a mere one game played in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers where he was flagged for pass interference and subsequently gave up a touchdown the following play.

The Niners placed Verrett on injured reserve shortly after that game.

Despite last year’s setback, San Francisco re-signed Verrett to a one-year deal during the offseason, and he spent plenty of time working with the first-team unit during training camp.

Still, that hasn’t overshadowed the fact Verrett has appeared in merely six regular-season games dating back to the start of the 2016 season when he was with the San Diego Chargers, the team that selected him in Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Verrett’s latest injury won’t alleviate any concerns about his health and durability heading into 2020, although The Athletic’s Matt Barrows reported it didn’t appear to be too serious:

SF 49ers cornerback depth to be tested with or without Jason Verrett

It’s also important to note Verrett has never played a full 16-game season. He came close during his 2015 Pro Bowl campaign in which he saw action in 14 games, but he’s never appeared in more than four since that point.

So, even if Verrett is cleared in time for the regular season, it’s likely the SF 49ers have to adjust for the reality Verrett might not be relied upon for availability over the duration of 2020.

On the positive side, the Niners already boast a starting-caliber corner opposite Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley, who was promoted to the first-string role late during the regular season last year and earned enough comfort from the coaching staff to start both the NFC Championship game and Super Bowl LIV.

Yet the depth is likely to be something San Francisco worries about a bit more, especially if Verrett isn’t able to go by the time Week 1 rolls around on Sept. 13.

Cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon and Dontae Johnson were on the bubble throughout training camp. Witherspoon, the team’s third-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, has had his up-and-down moments, both during camp this year and throughout his career. With Verrett’s latest injury, however, one would guess Witherspoon’s chances for securing a roster spot, even as a backup, increase dramatically.

And it also opens up the door for Johnson to have a better chance of hanging around into the regular season.

The 49ers didn’t draft any cornerbacks last April, and both Verrett and Johnson were the sole veteran free-agent additions the team made after a relatively quiet offseason in that department. Should Verrett miss an extended period of time, one might think the Niners could explore a dwindling free-agent market to address depth issues.

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In the meantime, Verrett’s injury history has crept back into the equation, forcing San Francisco to reevaluate what options it has at the position.