After missing the better part of four seasons, Jason Verrett took an important step in 2020.
The 25th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft has only appeared in 26 games in his five seasons prior to 2020. Still, the expectations Verrett had for himself were likely even higher than the 49ers' front office, who gave the cornerback a second chance with the club to prove his worth.
In his first season with the 49ers, while attempting to come back from an Achilles injury, Verrett only played four defensive snaps and 10 special teams plays over the entire 2019 season. The 29-year old defender turned the corner in his sixth NFL season, staying on the field for 802 defensive plays or 77-percent of the 49ers defensive snaps.
A 6-10 record after a Super Bowl appearance in 2019 was a disappointment, but Verrett will still sees a lot of positives in his second season with the 49ers.
“It was major,” Verrett said Monday. “Just with everything that I’ve been through physically, being able to come back and have the year that I’ve had, and I can only go up from here. I’m definitely proud of the way I bounced back.”
Verrett explained how important Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch were in the process of his return, keeping him off the field in 2019 when all the cornerback wanted to do was play football.
Completing a full recovery helped Verrett be healthy enough to record 60 total tackles, 50 solo and two for a loss. Verrett also managed two interceptions and seven pass breakups, arguably playing as well as he did in 2015 when he received his only Pro Bowl nod.
In hindsight, spending much of 2019 on injured reserve paid off for Verrett.
“At first I didn’t want to go with that plan,” Verrett said. “I didn’t see exactly what they were envisioning at the time but obviously it worked out and I definitely tip my hat to both of them seeing that plan for me and it working out.”
Verrett is looking forward to an offseason where he won’t be consumed by rehabbing injuries, but rather can set himself up for an even better season in 2021. Ready to test the free-agent market for the first time as a fully healthy player, Verrett will be a sought after player.
For all that the 49ers have done to assist in his comeback, Verrett sees the 49ers as a potential landing spot for 2021 and beyond. But making that happen will be a challenge for the club with the salary cap set to be lower than planned.
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“I appreciate everyone here from coaches to organization for rocking with me from Day 1,” Verrett said. “I hated that the season had to end the way it did but I definitely enjoyed my time since I’ve been here.
“Coming in here and seeing how they turned things around for me physically and mentally, it’s kind of hard to not want to come back,” Verrett said. “It’s kind of hard not to want to see if we can work things out just because it’s a class act organization. They’ve done a hell of a job with me through my time last year and this year.
“It’s going to be a tough decision for sure.”