Cornerback Jason Verrett has a history of injuries over his four years in the NFL, and has played just five total games since 2015.
So, this early in training camp, Verrett’s snap counts in practice have been limited – defensive coordinator Robert Saleh calls it a "pitch count" – to keep him healthy and primed for the regular season.
But, there’s no question the 49ers are excited about what the former Chargers first-round pick in 2014 could do in 2019 after signing him as a free agent this offseason. In his one healthy, full season (2015) he had three interceptions and was selected to the Pro Bowl. If Verrett can repeat that level of play, the 49ers suddenly could have quite a cornerback corps with Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon, who’s trying to rebound from injuries and a disappointing season.
After Tuesday’s practice, in which Verrett reportedly was active as a hitter and playmaker, Saleh said he loves what he’s seeing from the new 49er.
Verrett plays much bigger than his listed size of 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds.
"Yeah, I’m telling you, he’s a man," said Saleh. "I mean, you talk to him, he’s got a tremendous presence to him. There’s no BS to him. He’s a very physical corner. If you get a chance to shake his hand, put your forearm on his chest, just he’s like solid rock. He’s an impressive football player, an impressive man.
"We’re managing him to make sure he understands that he doesn’t need to be an All-Pro player yet, just continue to get better, just climb the ladder, and get a little bit better every day. We’ll continue the workload to increase it as it goes on, but excited about where he’s at. He’s only going to get better. He hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he’s capable of."
Recently, Sherman said he sees Verrett playing the way he did before injuries put him mostly on the sidelines the past two seasons.
"He’s rugged," he said. "He’s going to be in their face, he’s going to be tooth and nail, he’s going to claw, he’s going to grind it out. He’s going to be just the kind of player that he was before the injury."