The 49ers’ Thinnest Position Gets Even Thinner
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.