SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Halfway through Wednesday afternoon practice for the San Francisco 49ers, cornerback Jason Verrett fell to the ground and grabbed his left leg in apparent pain.
A lively farewell practice session for the Niners came to an abrupt end as players and coaches watched, fearing that Verrett, who had gone down without contact with his leg, had suffered yet another devastating long-term injury.
“It hasn’t been a long time on a football field that I haven’t had this much rest on,” tight end George Kittle said. “It just sucks your soul a little.”
The immediate fear became a reality Thursday when the Niners confirmed that Verrett had torn his left Achilles tendon and would be out for the remainder of the season. The injury came just days before Verrett likely had a moment to come full circle as he returned from the right area cruciate ligament tear he suffered on Sept. 12, 2021 against the Los Angeles Chargers, the team, who had selected him in the first round in 2014.
Instead, Verrett’s injury left Niners coach Kyle Shanahan choking and asking his team if they even wanted to resume practice on Wednesday, according to receiver Deebo Samuel.
“It took everyone’s life in training,” said Samuel. “Kyle tried to bring it up, but he couldn’t really speak, so he just said, ‘What do you guys want to do?’ And at the end of the day it’s part of this job and that would be the last guy I want to see on this team going down and knowing what he’s been through. So we huddled together as a team and everyone prayed for him and we tried our best to finish practice.”
While injuries are common in the NFL and the Niners have had their share, the fact that it was Verrett hit it a little harder. Kittle and other teammates described the scene at Wednesday’s practice as “brutal, devastating and heartbreaking.”
For Verrett, this means another long, tiring rehab that leaves much uncertainty about his future.
That list includes a torn labrum in his left shoulder in 2014, a torn left cruciate ligament in 2016, ongoing knee problems in 2017, and a torn right Achilles tendon muscle in 2018 that persisted in 2019 along with an ankle problem. In the 2016–19 stretch, Verrett played in just six games.
Verrett was mostly healthy in 2020, his second season with the Niners, and appeared to almost return to his 2015 Pro Bowl form with 60 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass breakups in 13 games. He tore his right cruciate ligament in the 2021 season opener against the Detroit Lions and missed the rest of the season.
But Verrett was close to returning from that injury earlier this week against the Chargers. The Niners activated him on Oct. 26 from the list of unfit players to get him back after last week’s farewell.
Well, that’s not going to happen.
“It was emotional,” said quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. “You see it all the time, but in our dressing room, a guy you’ve been a brother with for as long as Jason, you saw him going through the process of injury after injury and just struggling to come back from it . It’s just hard when you see a guy go down like that… The time you put into this game is unforgiving and when you see something like that it breaks your heart.”
While Verrett hadn’t played this year, the Niners were hoping he could move into a train role with cornerback Deommodore Lenoir opposite Charvarius Ward and potentially reclaim a starting role so Lenoir could return to the nickel back job.
Instead, Verrett will join cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (left cruciate ligament tear) on injured reserve.
“It’s just an unfortunate, devastating injury for him and for us,” defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said. “We all feel with JV. We know the work he put in to get back and we are all saddened by what happened to him. JV is an incredible person, an incredible leader. He was great at guiding these young people and giving us everything he had. It’s an unfortunate thing but we are praying for JV that he can recover and recover.
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34997019/49ers-cb-jason-verrett-suffers-season-ending-achilles-injury 49ers CB Jason Verrett suffers season-ending Achilles injury