Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Even if you know Jason Verrett’s story, it still bears repeating. He was, and maybe still is, a Pro Bowl cornerback. Then, his body took aim at itself. He tore an ACL, which didn’t heal properly, costing him two-straight seasons. Then he tore an Achilles, costing him a third-straight year. He suffered complications with that, and then tore a patellar tendon in his return in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, ending his season abruptly.
In the four years which followed his 2015, Pro Bowl year, he played in six games.
And it seemed like it would happen again to Verrett. He suffered a hamstring injury during training camp and missed the first two weeks of the season, not practicing once. But by Week 4, he had a starting job again. It was by default, given injuries to Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon, but he’s now outright won the job for Witherspoon and is playing at an elite level.
A stellar performance against the Rams culminated in a moment which might well represent a turning point in the 49ers’ season. With a 21-9 lead and the Rams going for it on 4th-and-goal in the late 3rd quarter at the 49ers’ 2-yard-line, Verrett channeled that Pro Bowl player.
He tracked Jared Goff’s eyes, and attacked the ball at it’s peak, capping it off with a toe-tap. It stunted the chance of a Rams comeback and immediately removed the 49ers from a battle over field position, re-setting them at their own 20-yard line.
Jason Verrett is BACK 🙏pic.twitter.com/GUeFqmERhb
— PFF (@PFF) October 19, 2020
Arik Armstead said it was, “probably the biggest play of the year.”
Jimmie Ward, who was covering Reynolds, holds that play, and Verrett, in as high esteem as anyone. As he saw it, he was beat, and Verrett bailed him out. Ward said he had inside leverage on Reynolds, leaving him exposed to a corner route.
“Oh I was the happiest person on the world,” Ward said. “I had inside leverage. So I was already out-leveraged because he did a seven [route], so I owe that guy a steak dinner.”
Verrett laughed and said he’d decline to take Ward up on that steak dinner, that he “just had Ward’s back,” on Ward who “had pretty decent coverage.” He said the moment was indescribable.
“Words can’t even describe the feeling,” Verrett said. “I’m just happy to be out there. I love the game. This is just what I worked for. I worked to get back to this stage right here. And I’m just trying to leave it all out there on the field every chance I get.”