The 49ers looked well on their way to a one-sided win over the Lions, but cornerback Jason Verrett’s crushing injury sets an ominous tone.
A win that, at least at one point looked lopsided, win at Ford Field that ultimately felt more like a loss.
San Francisco suffered plenty of injuries during the game, including missing running back Raheem Mostert after a few opening plays to a knee injury. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw also went out, too.
But the biggest setback, without question, was losing starting cornerback Jason Verrett, who went down on a non-contact injury late in the second half amid the Lions’ valiant comeback attempt. Verrett tried changing directions quickly, then went to the ground and was obviously in a lot of pain.
While Verrett did manage to walk off the field and into the locker room a bit, he eventually required assistance from the 49ers staff and was visibly shaken, crying as he was being helped off.
Kyle Shanahan, 49ers fear Jason Verrett suffered a torn ACL
The way Verrett’s knee moved on the play almost immediately suggested an ACL injury was in play. And that’s what head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters after the game.
“It’s crushing,” Shanahan said. “I’m hoping for the best, but it’s crushing.”
In Verrett’s place, the Niners were forced to play depth corner Dontae Johnson, against whom Detroit regularly targeted and took advantage in its fourth-quarter comeback attempt.
“We know the bad luck he’s had,” Shanahan continued. “Putting together these last two years and staying healthy, how good of a camp he’s had. I’ve got a lot of love for [Jason] and respect him as much as anyone I’ve ever been around. I really hurt for him.”
Former Niner Noise site expert Doug Totten, a graduate student of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, explained the tests used to determine ACL tears and noted how accurate they usually are. That information was provided to us back in 2018 when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL in Week 3.
Verrett dealt with a slew of injuries between 2016 and 2019 that ultimately limited him to just six regular-season games played during that span.
Brutal for him and San Francisco.
49ers contingency plans in wake of Jason Verrett injury
Johnson was the immediate option the 49ers went with after Verrett went down, although rookie corner Ambry Thomas was also regularly victimized by Detroit’s fourth-quarter passing attack.
The Niners elected not to dress their most recent free-agent pickup, veteran corner Josh Norman, although Shanahan told reporters he was excited to see Norman get himself ready for game action, which likely now becomes a top priority.
Norman, 33 years old, played nine games for the Buffalo Bills last season.
Additionally, when asked if former San Francisco cornerback Richard Sherman was potentially in the cards as another free-agent target, Shanahan responded with “Sherm is always a possibility.”
Either way, Verrett’s loss is absolutely brutal for the 49ers secondary, which had plenty of injury concerns to begin with at the very beginning of 2021.