Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Do the 49ers have issues at cornerback?

Rohan Chakravarthi
Nov 3, 2022 at 11:45 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers' cornerback room took a huge hit in Week 5 when Emmanuel Moseley suffered an ACL injury that will force him to miss the remainder of the 2022 season.

However, the 49ers had insurance in the form of defensive back Jason Verrett, whom they re-signed after the 30-year-old tore his ACL last season in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions.

But, eight weeks into the season, the 49ers haven't seen Verrett on the field yet, while the timeline is uncertain as to when he'll return to the field after experiencing a lack of progress in practice.

That leads to the question: do the 49ers have issues at cornerback?

Case 1: Jason Verrett returns

The 49ers expressed a form of confidence in Jason Verrett when activating him from the Physically Unable to Perform(PUP) list last Wednesday, signifying that they believe he can return at some point this season.

Had the 49ers not activated Verrett, the cornerback would've had to miss the entirety of the 2022 season as his three-week window of practicing while on the PUP list was coming to a close.

Now, if Jason Verrett does indeed return, head coach Kyle Shanahan has indicated that it will be in a starting capacity opposite of Charvarius Ward, which would provide the 49ers some much-needed depth at the position as they've been currently forced to play players away from their preferred locations.

As a result of Verrett's return, Deommodore Lenoir could fall back into the slot, where he showcased a level of comfortability at the beginning of the season, which would also improve the 49ers' tackling, given the Oregon product's ability in that space.

With Verrett, the 49ers could also return to primarily playing press-man coverage, which would get the most out of their defensive line by allowing DeMeco Ryans to be creative with certain formations and stunts that have generated pressure thus far this season.

Over the past few weeks, the 49ers have been relegated to playing softer coverage as Lenoir and cornerbacks Ambry Thomas and Samuel Womack aren't as strong in press coverage at the moment.

Against teams with weaker offensive lines, such as the Rams, the 49ers can bode well, as the opposing offense has to account for the presence in the trenches and implement a quick-game attack.

But, against teams with stronger offensive lines, such as the Chiefs, defensive backs don't have that security blanket, which allowed for several intermediate and deep completions against the backup corners.

With Verrett in the fold, assuming he's healthy, the 49ers can play to their style of defense, which will be very important if they make the playoffs.

Case 2: Jason Verrett doesn't return

If Jason Verrett is unable to return this season, the 49ers will likely have to continue trotting out Deommodore Lenoir along the outside, while placing Jimmie Ward in the slot.

This would be the worst-case scenario for the 49ers this season.

If this situation occurs, Lenoir would be relegated to the outside, decreasing his impact due to his lack of top-end speed and the lessened ability to showcase his run-fitting talent.

Additionally, Jimmie Ward would continue to play in the slot, which he clearly isn't comfortable with in a contract year.

Ward is suffering from a broken hand that requires him to play with a club, which mitigates the impact he can orchestrate with his hand placement.

Ward's ability to jam skill position players at the line of scrimmage with good hand placement has been his calling card in coverage, but he currently can't do that with his injury.

If Verrett doesn't return, Deommodore Lenoir will continue to see significant action on the outside, while Jimmie Ward will have to adapt to playing in the slot, making it tough for the 49ers to reach their Super Bowl aspirations.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

1 Comment

  • BigAl
    Its not realistic to expect Verrett to be anything close to his 2020 level this year, if ever. Losing Mosely was a big deal and I think one of the young guys is going have to step up. I can only speculate as to how Womack mustve pissed off one of the defensive coaches
    Nov 3, 2022 at 4:36 PM


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