The San Francisco 49ers bolstered their secondary on Wednesday, signing veteran cornerback Jason Verrett to a 1-year deal. Adding Verrett is a shrewd move that could pay big dividends should the corner return to his 2015 form.
That's the season Verrett posted 47 total tackles, three picks and 12 passes defended en route to his first career Pro Bowl. Since, he's endured a series of season-ending injuries from 2016-18. ACL tears limited Verrett to just five combined games in 2016 and 17. He then tore his Achilles just one day into last year's training camp. Verrett is yet to play a full 16 game season.
With that, there's no denying the skill set. The San Diego Chargers used the 25th overall pick on the TCU product back in 2014. The 49ers likely have injury fail-safes built into the contract that make it a low risk move with plenty of upside. He'll have every opportunity to earn a starting role to open the season. His primary competition is likely to be Ahkello Witherspoon and potentially Tarvarius Moore.
"The opportunity is there for me -- wide open for me to take it," Verrett said. "It's up to me to get back healthy and get back on the football field and do what I know I can do.
"I know I'm a top corner in this league when I'm healthy. I've got to prove it. The 49ers gave me an opportunity to do that."
The Levi's® Stadium jumbotron read "Welcome Home" as Verrett walked across his new home field for the first time. The message was there for all the team's newest acquisitions, but the words were poignant for Verrett.
"It's crazy," the Fairfield, Calif., native said. "It's a surreal moment."
Verrett had visits planned with the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. San Francisco was able to keep him from ever leaving the building.
"(It's) the culture here -- the vibe here," Verrett said of his choice to cancel his other visits. "It's the way the coaching staff is, the locker room, the facility -- everything top to bottom is a class-act organization."
San Francisco's defense ranked 11th against the pass last season, but the secondary came up short in regards to forcing turnovers. No 49ers corner recorded an interception in 2018, and the team as a whole only had two picks.
Verrett provides a potential remedy with his remarkable athletic profile. Among corners at the 2014 NFL Combine, Verrett's 4.38-second 40-yard dash ranked second, his 39-inch vertical ranked third, his 10'8" broad jump ranked third, his 6.69-second three-cone drill ranked third, and his 4.00-second 20-yard shuttle ranked first.
This is certainly a wait and see move, but at just 27-years old, Verrett could have plenty of quality football left in him.