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San Francisco 49ers defensive back Jason Verrett leaves the field after an injury during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, September 12, 2021. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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The 49ers’ Thinnest Position Gets Even Thinner

(Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The tears running down Fairfield native and former Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett’s face told a story all too familiar to both himself and the San Francisco 49ers.

Nobody needed a confirmation from head coach Kyle Shanahan in the postgame press conference.

Everybody knew what had happened: Verrett’s knee injury was going to end his season prematurely. It was a painful loss for the 49ers, not just because Verrett had clearly established himself as the teams number-one cornerback, but because Verrett had persevered and made a comeback from multiple devastating injuries to earn his spot in the 49ers’ secondary. 

So, what do the Niners do to address a position they were already thin at? 

The good news: the 49ers other starting cornerback, Emmanuel Mosely, looks like he’ll be back for Week 2 after sitting out the Niners matchup this past weekend with Detroit while recovering from a knee injury.

The bad news: there is no indication who will be starting alongside Mosely when the 49ers travel to Philadelphia for a Week 2 matchup with the Eagles. 

The most likely candidate right now appears to be veteran Josh Norman. Norman, a former All-Pro with the Panthers in 2015, spent last season with the Bills where he appeared in 9 games, with one interception and 4 deflections. 

Outside of Norman, rookie’s Deommodore Lenoir and Ambry Thomas can lineup on the left side. Lenoir looked the better of the two rookies on Sunday, allowing a meager three yards when targeted. 

While this is certainly a bright spot for the secondary, expecting a rookie 5th-round pick to match that production for the next 16 weeks is a big ask of Lenoir and first-year Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans. 

Veterans Dontae Johnson and K’Waun Williams are also on the roster, but neither are ideal as a replacement for Verrett. 

The other option is a familiar one: veteran Richard Sherman. Sherman played for the 49ers the last three seasons, and has been holding out in hopes of landing a deal in an ideal situation. Sherman had some off-field issues this past offseason, but the 33-year-old has maintained a good relationship with the 49ers, and a reunion might be just what both parties need. 

The 49ers will have to figure out a contingency plan with Verrett out for the year in a hurry, as the NFC West is the arguably the best division in football and the 49ers cannot lose any ground if they hope to contend for a playoff berth this year.