Photo credit: 49ers
It took far too long for Jason Verrett to find redemption, but it did finally come last season. In a year in which injuries seemed to plague everyone on the 49ers, Verrett, for the first time since his 2015 Pro Bowl season, was one of the lone, consistently healthy players.
And he wasn’t just healthy. He was elite; unquestionably so. If the film didn’t tell you that, Pro Football Focus (great for confirming elite and terrible, not so much in between), rated Verrett the eighth-best corner in the NFL last season with a 77.6 rating (Ahkello Witherspoon was ranked sixth with an 80.2 rating).
With the entire secondary expiring outside of Jimmie Ward and Tarvarius Moore, there was a very legitimate concern that the 49ers would lose most of their starters. Somehow, though, thanks largely to restructures, some very good luck from carryovers (all explained here) and weak market prices, San Francisco managed to clear enough cap space to retain Verrett, Jaquiski Tartt, K’Waun Williams and Emmanuel Moseley.
According to general manager John Lynch, there was a multiple-year offer on the table for Verrett, who declined and decided to bet on himself with a reported one-year, $5.5 million deal which is mostly guaranteed.
What kept Verrett in the Bay, he said, was that aforementioned group, and the fact that the 49ers have stuck with him, making the long-term bet on his ability and his health eventually reconvening.
“It always feels good to be wanted,” Verrett said. “My heart was always with San Fran. I mean I love the camaraderie we’ve got with the team, the coaching staff, training staff, the amazing fans, the whole nine yards.”
Verrett pointed to that veteran secondary group, saying they’ve developed much more than a coworker bond.
“K’Waun, Tartt, Jimmie Ward, we all kept in touch throughout the entire process,” Verrett said. “We all wanted to have another shot at it just because we know what we could do when we’re all out there on the field together so being able to get everybody back man we’re excited to see the things that we could do… We’re all guys that hang out outside of the locker room. It’s not like we’re just in there only when we have to do business. We built a relationship that will probably go past football.”
The 49ers are probably a lock to draft at least one defensive back, and it will more than likely be in the first four rounds. But the bet they’re making is largely on veteran players who have had consistent trouble staying healthy in (ages by the time season starts) Verrett, 30, Ward, 30, Williams, 30, and Tartt, 29.
But Verrett, who’s had no choice but to bet on himself, feels has finally turned the corner away from the injuries that plagued him for so long. As he put it, he’s a “a young 30.”
“I felt that I showed that I could run with the best of them,” Verrett said. “Last year, I could still cover with the best of them. And I just got to go out there and just play at a high level. I think at this point how with this new generation, age doesn’t really factor. A lot of people that maybe look 30. Everybody’s body’s kind of a little bit different or how it takes a toll on them but for me, I’m strong, healthy and still feeling young so long as I could run I think I’ll be alright.”