As he was working his way back from a torn ACL suffered in Week 1 of the 2021 season, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jason Verrett tore his Achilles in Wednesday’s practice and is out for the season. It’s a devastating injury for a player that has worked so hard and is so beloved in the locker room.
“There hasn’t been a quietness over a football field I’ve been around like that in a long time,” said 49ers tight end George Kittle. “It just kind of sucks your soul out a little bit.”
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) November 11, 2022
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel said that head coach Kyle Shanahan was very emotional and asked the team if it wanted to continue with practice.
“It took the life out of everybody at practice,” said Samuel on Thursday, when it was announced that Verrett is indeed out for the season. “Kyle tried to bring it up but he couldn’t really talk and so he was just like, ‘What you guys want to do?’ And at the end of the day, it’s a part of this job and that would be the last guy I want to see on this team down knowing all the things that he’s been through. So, we huddled up as a team and everybody prayed for him and we tried our best to finish practice.”
It seemed that Verrett was set to make his 2022 debut Sunday night against the Los Angeles Chargers (the team by which he was drafted), with Shanahan saying earlier in the week that Verrett was “really close” to playing in the 49ers’ Week 8 win over the Los Angeles Rams. With this week following the bye week, it seemed the stage was set.
“It’s a somber mood,” said defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. “…[A]ll those guys have seen him working on the side, seeing him being back out there and the energy that he brought to the team, just him being back out there working, everybody seeing him work, it was definitely uplifting for the entire team to see him, so when you see him go down, it’s just a somber mood for everyone, coaches, players, everyone. And our support staff, everyone just feels for him.”
Throughout his career, Verrett has suffered a myriad of serious injuries, including a torn labrum in 2014, a torn ACL in 2016 and a torn right Achilles in 2018. He had a healthy 2020, played in 13 games and had 60 tackles, two interceptions and seven PBUs.
“It was weird,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said of the moment Verrett was hurt on Wednesday. “It was emotional. I don’t know, you see it all the time, but in our locker room, a guy that you’ve been a brother with as long as Jason, you’ve seen him go through the process of injury after injury and just grinding to come back from it. It’s just tough when you see a guy go down like that because we all put in so much work. The time that you put into this game and it’s unforgiving. And when you see something happen like that, it just, it breaks your heart.”
With CB Emmanuel Moseley tearing his ACL earlier this season, second-year corner Deommodore Lenoir has stepped in opposite Charvarius Ward. Shanahan said earlier in the week that the 49ers were open to having a platoon situation with Verrett and Lenoir. Conventional wisdom would say that the hope was Verrett would take over and Lenoir would move back to nickel corner, but unfortunately, that is not to be.
“It was real sad just to know what he’s been through and just to see a leader like that in our room go down,” said second-year corner Ambry Thomas. “…It put things back into perspective for a lot of us – that everyone’s just one play away and everyone’s got to always be ready…[D]on’t take football for granted because it can be over like that, as you see.”
This sport can be so brutal and so unfair.
“We all feel for J.V.,” Ryans said. “We know the work that he’s put in to come back and we’re all saddened about what happened to him. J.V. is an unbelievable person, unbelievable leader and for us, he’s been tremendous. Leading these young guys and giving us everything he’s had, so it’s just an unfortunate thing. We’re praying for J.V., that he’s able to bounce back and recover. He’s been through it before, we know he will. Strong man, so all our thoughts are with him at this time, because we know how difficult it is for him and we know how much work he put in, how dedicated he was to coming back and helping his team, so it definitely hurts for us. The guys are with him and the guys around him will pick up the slack and be ready to roll.”