SANTA CLARA -- A rash of injuries has only allowed cornerback Jason Verrett to play in 25 games over his four-year NFL career.
But veteran cornerback Richard Sherman believes Verrett's debut with the 49ers might surprise a lot of people.
“He’s a dog,” Sherman said. “He’s rugged, he’s going to be in their face, he’s going to be tooth and nail, he’s going to claw, he’s going to grind it out. He’s going to be just the kind of player that he was before the injury.”
Sherman, who has dealt with his own Achilles rehabilitation, knows about the expectations of returning to the field, not only from himself, but from others.
“People talk about injuries like you can control them,” Sherman said. “‘You know, he used to be scrappy, he used to be this, but look at him now.’ The guy didn’t want to be hurt. The guy didn’t want the knee injury, the Achilles, but it happens and that’s part of his journey.
“I think that he’s excited to go back out there and I think a lot of people in this organization, people who haven’t seen him play, will see a corner that they didn’t realize was as talented and as good as he is.”
Sherman opened up about what he and Verrett have talked about.
“We’ve had conversations just the mentality of coming back, the confidence level," Sherman said, "the trust that you have in your own body that it’s going to react the way you expect it to.
“The maneuvering confidently into your cuts, and into your workout, and not having fear of it rupturing again, or tearing, or the leg being too weak. Just the mentality going through the peaks and valleys of rehabilitation. It’s tough but he’s a at a great place now.”
Head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to Verrett after his second day of practice just to check in on how he was feeling after such a long hiatus.
“I see a guy who is getting his confidence back,” Shanahan said. “Verrett has worked as hard as anyone. Really, I just went up to him in that period because I didn’t get a chance to talk to him yesterday after practice, so I just went up to say congratulations on getting through your first day.
“I just wanted to go check on him and see what that mental deal was for him because when guys have been hurt that much and they come back and they work at that high intensity for the first time, its not like he’s been playing pick-up football at the YMCA the last few months, this is his first time playing football."
Shanahan liked what he heard from Verrett.
“That is a very big head game for him," Shanahan said. "He survived yesterday, I wanted to see what he said and he was very happy and encouraged how it was, and we will keep ramping it up as we go."
Prior to the start of training camp, general manager John Lynch also expressed interest in seeing what Verrett is capable of on the field.
“We’re very excited that he’s feeling healthy,” Lynch said. "I think there will be some management of him. Obviously, you don’t want to throw a guy like that out there in terms of reps, but we’re kind of doing that with the whole team and we’re excited about Jason.”
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Shanahan confirmed that they will be careful with Verrett, working him back into the fold gradually.
“We’ve just got to be smart with him because we all know there’s a history there,” Shanahan said. “But, the way he looks right now, you wouldn’t know that. He’s put the work in and I’m pumped for him to be in this situation and we’re going to have to protect him from himself more than anything.”