Losing Jason Verrett for the season was like salt in the wound for the 49ers.
Cornerback was already the most concerning position on the team with Verrett. Now that he is out, it only makes the position worse. Or at least, you would think that is the case.
To go against the grain here, losing Verrett is not as painful as it seems. The corners were going to be reliant on the pass rush to make their job easier regardless. That does not change with Verrett out, so the 49ers actually don’t have a massive drop off on their hands. They’ll be able to defend well in most games and cause some fits for opposing offenses.
Where the loss of Verrett truly hurts the 49ers is going up against the NFC West.
The 49ers do not have anyone who can check DeAndre Hopkins or D.K. Metcalf. The reason the star wide receivers are worrisome is not just because of their talent, but because of who is throwing to them. Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson are mobile quarterbacks who can render a pass rush obsolete. Since the secondary in general is going to be boom-or-bust with the pass rush, this makes it an emphasis on having an elite cover guy like Verrett who does not need to fully rely on the pass rush.
“It's tough." Said DeMeco Ryans at Thursday's presser. "You don't compensate for the losses of a guy like Verrett. He's a true pro, great man, been an awesome leader for us. So, it's devastating to lose a guy like that, man. He's one of the hearts and souls of our backend, the corners and safeties. Just the way he leads and leads those guys. It's devastating news. It hurts to lose the guy and know what he's gone through. So just praying for him and his recovery process that everything goes well and he can get back to playing football. You don't replace a guy like Verrett.”
Wilson and Murray can now have their way with the 49ers defense. There is no corner who can slow down Hopkins or Metcalf, and the 49ers have to face each of them twice. This is where DeMeco Ryans is going to really have to put on his thinking cap. Who knows if he can even figure out a way to slow these guys down?
Ryans and the cornerbacks first warm-up task for them will be when they host the Packers. Davante Adams ate up the 49ers last season. Verrett certainly would have made his day a lot more difficult. Now Adams is poised to erase any opponent.
Maybe Deommodore Lenoir continues to ascend and ends up being a surprise for the 49ers like Dre Greenlaw was in 2019. That is really the best and most hopeful bet the 49ers can have as the season progresses.
Otherwise, they’re going to need the offense to really put up some points to match the opposition.