What Jason Verrett ankle injury means for 49ers' Ahkello Witherspoon

What Jason Verrett ankle injury means for 49ers' Ahkello Witherspoon

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon said he felt the absence of the man he is directly competing with in training camp.

Jason Verrett did not practice Thursday after injuring his ankle in Wednesday’s practice. Coach Kyle Shanahan said the team feared Verrett’s injury would be more significant, but they hope he will be ready for the start of the regular season.

The 49ers signed Verrett to a one-year deal this offseason, and he was competing with Witherspoon for the starting cornerback spot alongside Richard Sherman.

"The dude's very talented,” Witherspoon said of Verrett on Thursday. “Period. [He’s p]hysically gifted. He's very focused. He loves to play football, and a guy like that, you just love to have in the room, you love to compete with straight-up. It's just unfortunate what happened to him, but we'll have him back and he'll be a big part of our team."

Witherspoon’s up-and-down second NFL season ended two games early after he sprained his PCL in Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks. He showed signs of improvement before the injury, and Shanahan said at the end of the season that the team hoped that would continue during the offseason program.

The 24-year-old arguably was the 49ers’ best defensive player during OTAs, which Verrett was held out of. Verrett, 28, tore his Achilles on the first day of training camp with the Los Angeles Chargers last year, and has dealt with myriad of injuries throughout his career. The 2015 Pro Bowler has played in only 25 NFL games, and just five since the start of the 2016 season.

“You feel for a guy, just the injuries he's been through,” Witherspoon said. “Definitely a big relief that it's not nothing longer. And then in the same respect, you just feel bad for anything -- even a day off -- for a guy that loves to play the game like he does, it's tough to see.”

In the meantime, Witherspoon will continue to get reps with the 49ers’ No. 1 defensive unit as he did Thursday. Witherspoon returned to practice Tuesday after dealing with glute tightness during the first week of training camp, and he said he feels “great” now. At one point during 11-on-11 drills, Witherspoon blanketed receiver Dante Pettis and forced an incompletion, turning to the referee in hopes of drawing an offensive pass-interference penalty.

Witherspoon said he wasn’t sure how much he would play in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. In Verrett’s absence, he likely will line up with the first-team defense when the 49ers hold joint practices with the Denver Broncos next week and during the team’s “dress rehearsal” in the third preseason game against the high-octane Kansas City Chiefs.

[RELATED: 49ers initially feared Bosa would miss whole season]

Provided he stays healthy, Witherspoon is in line for a lot of reps through the remainder of training camp and the preseason. Still, Shanahan said “there will be some good competition” when Verrett is able to return.

“He’s one that we can be more patient with,” Shanahan said of Verrett. “We know the football player he is, we’ve seen the guy since he’s been here. He’s as good of a guy and as good of a competitor as I’ve been around. We’ve got ultimate trust in him, it’s just about him getting his body right.”

Ravens' John Harbaugh reacts to 49ers' Tim Ryan's Lamar Jackson remarks


Ravens' John Harbaugh reacts to 49ers' Tim Ryan's Lamar Jackson remarks

49ers broadcaster Tim Ryan was suspended for one game after comments made about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson following Sunday’s loss.

“He’s really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin color with the dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see the thing,” Ryan said on the show (H/T The San Francisco Chronicle).

The comments created a social media firestorm, but Ravens head coach John Harbaugh isn’t interested in furthering the controversy.

“I don’t really know too much about it or understand the context of it. It’s not relevant to what we’re trying to accomplish right now,” Harbaugh said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.

[RELATED: 49ers' Harris to start at strong safety for injured Tartt]

Former 49ers defensive end Dennis Brown will replace Ryan on Sunday’s broadcast in New Orleans.

49ers injury report: Marcell Harris to start in place of Jaquiski Tartt

49ers injury report: Marcell Harris to start in place of Jaquiski Tartt

BRADENTON, Fla. – Marcell Harris on Sunday will be back where he ended his rookie season with the 49ers.

Harris will take over as the 49ers’ starter at strong safety with Jaquiski Tartt out for at least one game after sustaining cracked ribs in the team’s 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13.

Tartt and backup defensive tackle Jullian Taylor (elbow) have been ruled out for the 49ers’ game Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Two of the 49ers’ seldom-used wide receivers, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis, are listed as questionable, along with left tackle Joe Staley. Goodwin has knee and foot issues, according to the team, while Pettis has already missed one game with a knee injury.

Staley has missed three games after surgery to repair a fractured and dislocated finger. He is expected to play Sunday.

All other 49ers players, including Dee Ford and Richard Sherman, will be available for Sunday’s game.

Harris started the final five games of his rookie season after being a sixth-round draft pick from Florida in 2018. He did not earn a spot on the team’s 53-man roster at the beginning of this season. Harris was promoted from the practice squad in October and has appeared in nine games this season.

“I’m real happy for Marcell,” coach Kyle Shanahan said on "49ers Game Plan," which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3). “He’s gone come a long way, in that he was a very good college player, tore his Achilles his senior year, which really hurt him. That’s why we were able to get him in the draft. It affected him his whole rookie year.

"He’s been able to string together about eight months where he has been healthy, and when you’re made of the right stuff, you have the talent and you can stay healthy, you usually just need the time.”

Harris took over for Tartt on Sunday and made one of the top plays in the game when he took the ball away from Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on a running play to create a turnover.

[RELATED: Sanders has been valuable resource for 49ers' young WRs]

49ers injury report

S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs)
DT Jullian Taylor (elbow)

WR Marquise Goodwin (knee, foot)
WR Dante Pettis (knee)
T Joe Staley (finger)