Jason Verrett had tears in his eyes as he slowly limped off Ford Field in Detroit to a very abrupt and disappointing end to his eighth NFL season. It wasn’t long before the rest of the 49ers would collectively by crying along with him.
Verrett’s season-ending torn ACL in the fourth quarter of San Francisco’s Week 1 victory over the Lions was a massive blow to the team.
“I think we all kind of felt that,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said.
“It’s crushing,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I’ve got a lot of love for JV and respect him as much as anyone I’ve ever been around. I really hurt for him.”
To be sure, the rest of the 49ers are hurting, too.
Losing Verrett will hurt the 49ers in the locker room, where Verrett had established himself as a veteran leader and mentor for the team’s young corps of cornerbacks.
It will hurt San Francisco even more on the field, where Verrett had clearly established himself as the team’s No. 1 cornerback — a shutdown corner, no less — with a strong summer showing to follow his career-reviving 2020 season. Verrett was a godsend for the 49ers last year, bouncing back from a three-year stretch during which a succession of injuries limited him to 67 total snaps to start 13 games while playing at a Pro Bowl level throughout the season.
That helped San Francisco survive at the cornerback position, where All-Pro stalwart Richard Sherman missed 11 games to injury and was a shell of himself even when he was in the lineup. The 49ers needed a corner to step up against the top targets of opponents, and Verrett was it.
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EIGHT IS ENOUGH
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STOCK UP STOCK DOWN
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In the weeks that follow after you read this — and perhaps sometime even sooner than that — Kyle Shanahan and the rest of the 49ers organization will make a titanic decision that will have present, future and perhaps even everlasting implications for the franchise. It will chart the course for the team’s pivotal 2021 season while determining whether San Francisco really does have the juice to return to powerhouse status and again be considered a legitimate contender to get back to the Super Bowl.
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Fred Warner vaulted to stardom with a spectacular 2020 season — and the 49ers rewarded him this summer with a $95.225 million deal that makes him the highest-paid inside linebacker in NFL history. By today’s standards, Warner’s performance last year was worth the money as he posted an Approximate Value of 19 — matching the highest score ever recorded by a San Francisco defender according to a Pro Football Reference formula that puts a single number on each player-season across all positions since 1960. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman (twice) also had seasons with an AV of 19 as they dominate this list of the greatest individual seasons by a linebacker in 49ers history.
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