Finally back at full health, 49ers cornerback Jason Verrett could help fill the void left by Richard Sherman while the veteran remains on injured reserve with a calf injury.
Verrett, who has had his own injury challenges throughout his career, returned to full participation in practice on Wednesday. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh hopes that the cornerback will be able to contribute Sunday against the New York Giants.
“He’s been getting good reps,” Saleh said Thursday. “He looks really good, feels really good, he’s saying all the right things and his vibe has been awesome. He looks good, and if he can continue stacking up days, it will be a matter of time before he gets his opportunity.”
There’s no question that when healthy, Verrett can be an elite cornerback. Verrett played a career-high 14 games in 2015, making the Pro Bowl after recording three interceptions, 47 total tackles (two for loss) and 12 passes defensed.
Since signing with the 49ers as a free agent in 2019, Verrett has only suited up once. He played just four snaps in Week 3 last season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, getting targeted once and allowing Diontae Johnson's 39-yard touchdown reception.
Although Verrett didn't play the rest of the season, the front office still had confidence that the 29-year-old could contribute in 2020. Verrett signed a one-year contract during the offseason.
Emmanuel Moseley won the starting position opposite Sherman during training camp, and Ahkello Witherspoon filled in for Sherman in Week 2 against the New York Jets. Quarterback Sam Darnold targeted Witherspoon six times, completing five passes including a touchdown.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said Friday that Witherspoon is questionable for Sunday with a hamstring injury. If Witherspoon is unable to play, Verrett could be called upon against the Giants.
Verrett's only previous appearance with the 49ers wasn't his best outing. On Sunday at MetLife Stadium, he just might get a chance to redeem himself.