The San Francisco 49ers will open up the second half of the regular season against the Los Angeles Chargers on "Sunday Night Football." Coming out of the Bye, the team is the healthiest its been in weeks, and the team anticipates several previously injured players will return to game action in Week 10. Wide receivers Deebo Samuel (hamstring), Jauan Jennings (hamstring) and fullback Kyle Juszczyk (finger) rejoined practice on Monday and the team opened the practice windows for linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (knee), running back Elijah Mitchell (knee), defensive lineman Jordan Willis (ankle) and offensive lineman Colton McKivitz (knee) earlier in the week. However, a major setback for cornerback Jason Verrett will be keeping him off the field for the rest of the season.
The former Pro Bowl corner suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon tear during Wednesday's practice. Verrett was working back from an ACL tear he suffered in the 2021 season opener that sidelined him for the entirety of last season. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans confirmed Verrett's injury was non-contact in his address to the media on Thursday.
"It was an unfortunate, devastating injury for him and for us," Ryans said. "We all feel for JV. We know the work that he has put in to come back, and we are all saddened by what's happened to him. JV is an unbelievable person, unbelievable leader."
Verrett's teammates expressed similar sentiments, sharing their heartfelt support for a veteran of the locker room.
"It was emotional," quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. "You see it all the time, but in our locker room, a guy that you've been a brother with for as long as Jason, you've seen him go through the process of injury after injury, grinding to come back from it. It's just tough to see a guy go down like that because you put in so much work."
Al-Shaair and Greenlaw Work Their Way Back
For the first time since Week 3, it's possible the middle of the 49ers defense will be intact. This week, Al-Shaair has been fully available for practice, and Dre Greenlaw has been running drills with ease in a limited capacity. Having the trio of Al-Shaair, Greenlaw and Fred Warner bodes well for a defensive unit that will be tasked with containing Chargers running back Austin Ekeler. The dual-threat back has racked up 427 rushing and 381 receiving yards and scored a total of 10 touchdowns in 2022.
"We would love to have those guys back," Ryans said. "When you are able to get two of our top players back in the middle of our defense, there's just so many things they can stop. With their speed, their athleticism, their physicality that they bring to our defense, they are everything I ask for from our defense."
Thursday Practice and Participation Report:
Limited Participation: LB Dre Greenlaw (calf)