Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

49ers Notebook: ‘Somber mood’ following Verrett injury; Lance update; Mitchell’s role after McCaffrey trade

Nov 10, 2022 at 5:12 PM--

San Francisco 49ers players struggled to finish Wednesday's practice after Jason Verrett went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. Injuries throughout his nine-season NFL career have plagued the cornerback. He's had only two healthy seasons, and the latest injury was heartbreaking for the teammates who watched him battle back from last year's torn ACL.

"It took the life out of everybody at practice, like, literally," wide receiver Deebo Samuel told reporters after Thursday's practice. "[Head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] tried to bring it up, but he couldn't really talk. He was just like, 'What do you guys want to do?'

"At the end of the day, it's a part of this job, but definitely the last guy you want to see on this team go down, knowing all the things that he been through. So we held him up as a team, and everybody prayed for him, and we tried our best to finish practice."

Samuel added that the team is keeping Verrett in their prayers and hoping the cornerback can find a way to return.

"Brutal. Devastating. Heartbreaking. It just sucked," tight end George Kittle told NBC Sports Bay Area when asked about the injury.

While Shanahan was at a loss for words after the injury occurred on Wednesday, the coach discussed Verrett during his Thursday interview on KNBR.

"For him to go through that this amount of times, it was so hard to watch," Shanahan said after listing Verrett's many previous injuries. "He knew it right away, and it was pretty sad for everybody."

Verrett's injury has impacted the entire locker room. After all, the cornerback is a well-liked and respected teammate.

"We all feel for J.V.," defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said. "We know the work he put in, how dedicated he was to coming back and helping this team. It definitely hurt for us. The guys are with him, and the guys around him will pick up the slack and be ready to roll."

Ryans revealed that Verrett's Achilles tear was a non-contact injury. The coach was asked about the mood at Thursday's practice, the day after the injury.

"As you guys would expect, it's a somber mood because all those guys have seen him working on the sides, seeing him being back out there, the energy that he brought to the team, just him being back out there working. ... When you see him go down, it's a somber mood for everyone—coaches, players, everyone. Everyone just feels for him."

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo acknowledges that injuries happen all the time. He's fought back from many. However, watching that repeatedly happen to Verrett made this latest injury difficult for the team.

"It's just tough when you see a guy go down like that because we all put in so much work," Garoppolo said. "The time that you put into this game, it's unforgiving. When you see something happen like that, it just breaks your heart."

Kittle added, "It's a really sh-tty situation."

Trey Lance making progress

Matt Barrows of The Athletic caught a glimpse of quarterback Trey Lance, who has been around the team since his season-ending ankle injury during Week 2. Lance is making progress. The plan is to have him ready for next season.

"His recovery appears to be going well," wrote Barrows.

Mitchell's role after McCaffrey trade

What will Elijah Mitchell's role be following the trade for Christian McCaffrey? The second-year running back is close to returning from the MCL sprain he sustained during Week 1.

Offensive line/run game coordinator Chris Foerster admits that he hasn't spoken with Mitchell, the team's Week 1 starter, about the plan to use him and McCaffrey together.

"I think most guys, they really just compete," Foerster said. "Elijah knows that he has a role. Jeff [Wilson Jr.] knew he had a role [before being traded to the Dolphins]. Every guy has a role here, and if you play well and are productive, we're going to find a way to get you the football and get you in the game. It's a long season. We need everybody."

How has Mitchell looked since the 49ers opened his practice window on Monday?

"So far, so good. Everything looks good," Foerster said. "He's out there working and seems to be in good shape."

Drake Jackson progressing

Drake Jackson could have a bigger role on Sunday if defensive end Samson Ebukam (quadricep, Achilles) cannot play. The rookie has been somewhat quiet since recording three sacks between Weeks 3 and 6. A reporter asked Ryans about Jackson's progress.

"Drake has been progressing each week," Ryans responded. "I've seen Drake be better and better each week. So Drake has to just continue to do what he's been doing. I'm happy with where he's headed. He's been doing some really good things for us, and I think he'll continue to get better with the more reps that he's given. He'll continue to get better and make plays for us. So I'm happy with where he is."

Deebo recalls learning of McCaffrey trade

Where was Samuel when he first heard the news that his 49ers had traded for McCaffrey? He was at home when his mother told him that his team acquired the star running back, or as she put it, "this dude."

"She don't too much know about football," Samuel admitted. ".. I was like, 'Oh, sh-t.' I remember just looking around, and just like, 'That's crazy.' I ended up calling [tackle] Trent [Williams], and he was jacked. Just seeing how excited everybody else was just to have him on the team."

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