Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers


49ers CB Jason Verrett praises organization’s role in his comeback, says it could impact his free agency decision

Jan 4, 2021 at 12:09 PM--


If cornerback Jason Verrett decides to stay with the 49ers past the 2020 season, perhaps the team's training staff may deserve some credit for an assist.

Verrett is one of the most intriguing cases among the long list of impending free agents on whom the 49ers must come to a decision before the start of the 2021 league year on March 18. Verrett has a long and difficult injury history that limited him to just six total game appearances from 2016 to 2019. But at age 29, he was finally able to stay mostly healthy throughout 2020 and put on a performance that showed he is still capable of being the type of player he was early in his career when he was selected to the 2015 Pro Bowl as a member of the then-San Diego Chargers.

So how should the 49ers approach the free agency of Verrett, who was generally regarded as the 49ers' best cornerback in 2020? It remains to be seen, but Verrett sounded more than willing to explore a return to the 49ers when speaking about the issue during the team's year-end media sessions on Monday.

"I haven't really thought about it too much yet," Verrett said. "I know one thing -- I appreciate everybody here, from players and coaches to the entire organization, for rocking with me from day one. I hated that the season had to end the way it did, but I definitely have enjoyed my time since I've been here."

Verrett's comeback in 2020 was remarkable considering the amount of injury issues he had throughout his career, as well as the fact that no one knew if he'd ever be able to reach his old form after not having played for so long. The 49ers first gave him a chance when they signed him to a one-year deal in 2019, one year after a torn Achilles wiped out his final season with the Chargers, but he wasn't able to make a full return and wound up appearing in just one game. San Francisco brought back Verrett on another one-year deal in April, and eventually its patience with him paid off as he stayed healthy for 13 games in 2020 and totaled 57 tackles, seven passes defended, and two interceptions.

Chances are Verrett would be a prime candidate for the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year had his return not happened during a season full of incredible comeback stories (such as that of the overwhelming favorite to win the award, former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who helped Washington to a playoff berth two years after suffering a life-threatening leg condition). The 49ers did their part to help Verrett along that path, which is something he undoubtedly appreciates and admits could play a factor in his decision if the team offered him a new contract.

"Absolutely. Coming here and seeing how they turned things around for me physically, 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 because it's a class act organization. They've done a hell of a job with me throughout my time last year and throughout this year. Now that I'm healthy and I love where my body is, it will definitely tough decision for sure."

Also there to help Verrett along the way were 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. Both of them have given their share of praise to Verrett in the past, and in 2019, they did their part in making sure Verrett didn't come back to the field from his previous injuries too early. Those efforts helped set up a successful return for Verrett in 2020.

"I think Kyle and John Lynch definitely played a huge role in that because they were trying to hold me back from myself," Verrett said. "I was just so eager to get out there regardless of how I felt. I just missed the game. Once they pulled me to the side and they day-to-day IR'd me, we put a plan together. At first, I didn't want to go with that plan. I didn't see exactly what they were envisioning at that time, but obviously it worked out."

Chances are both the 49ers and Verrett would like to find a way to work things out in the coming months and find a deal that benefits both sides. But it might prove tricky if another team comes forward with a better offer. Whatever happens from here, Verrett can hold his head up high after what he accomplished in 2020, knowing now he'll finally be able to enter an offseason in which he doesn't have to wonder whether he'll be healthy enough to play in the upcoming season.

"It was major," Verrett said. "With everything that I've been through physically, being able to come back and have the year that I had, I can only go up from here. Being able to go into the offseason where I don't have to worry about rehab, I can relax and then start back up in the next month or so, but I'm definitely proud of the way I bounced back from it."

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