In a year full of missing star players for the 49ers, their brightest spot has come in the form of cornerback Jason Verrett.
Since taking over as the starter in Richard Sherman's stead in Week 3, Verrett has held down and brought solidification along with Emmanuel Moseley. Verrett is currently Pro Football Focus' fifth-highest graded cornerback in the league. He is a major factor as to why the 49ers' defense has transformed itself into a stout pass coverage defense.
Robert Saleh now has the luxury to call man-to-man coverage more often, which is necessary for his blitz calls. Seeing Verrett return into his elite form is both a surprise and not a surprise to me. In training camp, Verrett did not look nearly as great as he is performing right now. He still looked like he lacked confidence, which is understandable given his inconsistent health.
But if Verrett were to somehow find a stroke of luck with his health and get his confidence back, then he easily becomes the 49ers' second-best cornerback. In fact, he probably IS the 49ers' best cornerback. It is quite remarkable to see Verrett perform at such a high level given his single abysmal outing against the Steelers in 2019.
So what is contributing to Verrett's resurgent season?
The most glaring answer is his health, but it is more than just that. Verrett was healthy in 2019 early and got dusted in the matchup with the Steelers.
What is contributing the most for Verrett is the amount of opportunities he has been given by the coaching staff. Throughout training camp, Verrett saw first-team reps the vast majority of the time. Initially it was odd to see Verrett receive all of those reps as opposed to Moseley who became the perfect anchor towards the end of the season in 2019.
One reason I believed the 49ers were doing so was because they knew what they had with Moseley, so they didn't see it necessary to give him those reps. It benefitted the 49ers more to let Verrett receive the first-team reps, especially since their backup option after Moseley and Sherman was Ahkello Witherspoon.
All of this was to allow Verrett to regain his confidence in case any of the 49ers' starting cornerbacks went down due to injury. His string of good health is just both Verrett and the 49ers' fortune. Who would've thought that in a season full of injuries that Verrett is a healthy one?
The 49ers deserve credit for giving Verrett all of the opportunities in the world.
They allowed him to take his lumps in training camp, which came in bunches, and hash out any rust or self-doubt. Whenever he steps out onto the field, you can see how sure he is of himself. To play cornerback, you have to be confident. You cannot doubt yourself because then you stop trusting in your talent and technique. The fact that Verrett can lock his receiver down in man coverage again is testament of that.
There are still five games left in the season, but at this point I think it is safe to say that the 49ers will look to re-sign Verrett in the offseason.