After signing free-agent Charvarius Ward to a three-year, $42 million contract and selecting two cornerbacks in this weekend’s NFL Draft, the 49ers decided they still had work to do to bolster their defensive backfield.
The team announced Monday that veteran cornerback Jason Verrett is back with the team after signing a one-year deal. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
The former Pro Bowl corner missed almost all of the 2021 season after tearing his ACL in the 49ers’ Week 1 win against the Lions, but there was mutual interest in a reunion as Verrett was one of the defense’s best players in 2020 when he started 14 games and recorded two interceptions.
The 49ers used their fifth round pick on Toledo product Samuel Womack and added another corner, Penn State’s Tariq Castro-Fields, with their third selection of the sixth round, but brought back Verrett anyway to a group that is light on proven NFL talent.
Ward is expected to anchor a group that also features returning starter Emmanuel Moseley and second-year cornerback Ambry Thomas, who took over a starting role late last season. The addition of Verrett provides the 49ers with important flexibility, especially following the loss of K’Waun Williams, a multi-year starter at nickel corner under Kyle Shanahan who departed to sign a two-year contract with the Broncos this offseason.
If Verrett stays healthy and able to regain the form he showed in 2020, he could play a significant role as an outside corner opposite Ward, which could potentially allow the 49ers to use Moseley as a nickel corner. Thomas is also expected to push for playing time on the outside and there’s hope within the organization that he’ll continue to build strength and make significant strides after spending much of the first half of last season on the bench.
Womack projects as a possible nickel corner while Castro-Fields should provide depth on the outside while fortifying the 49ers’ special teams units if both are able to win roster spots during training camp.