49ers Mailbag: What is expected from Jason Verrett in return to field?


You have questions, we have answers. (And if we don’t, we’ll just make ‘em up.)

Thanks to those who submitted questions for this edition of the 49ers Mailbag via Facebook. Let's get to it  . . . 

With Jason Verrett listed as available, how many snaps can we expect to see of him on Sunday and could we see him starting in the slot (down the line, not vs. the Bengals)? (Jeremy Wohlfart)
With Verrett now healthy, but Akhello playing well, how will the 49ers get him onto the field? (Matthew J Azar)
Jason Verrett was healthy last week, and he thought he would be in uniform for the opener at Tampa Bay. But, remember, only 46 players can suit up for a game. And with the concerns about the heat and humidity in Tampa, the 49ers figured it was best to suit up nine defensive linemen.

Verrett sustained an ankle sprain on Aug. 7 and did not see any action durig the preseason. He was not even listed on the team's injury report this week.

My guess is the 49ers will deactivate one of their D-linemen -- most likely, Jullian Taylor -- in Week 2 against Cincinnati. I think Verrett will be in uniform, but I don’t envision him filling much more than a backup role.

He certainly is not going to supplant Ahkello Witherspoon as a starter. Verrett did not work at all at nickel back during the summer. Moreover, I have a difficult time believing the 49ers would want Verrett to do much on special teams, either.

Right now, he is a very talented backup player. There is generally a lot of attrition in the defensive backfield, so Verrett would be the first player off the sideline if a replacement is needed for Witherspoon or Richard Sherman.

Did Ahkello Witherspoon’s performance Sunday surprise the current regime, or reaffirm their faith in his potential? (Derek Taylor)
They were not surprised because they fully understand he is a talented individual. The issue with Witherspoon has been his consistency, so those are the types of games they want to see from him on a week-to-week basis.

Does Jimmie Ward suit up with Jason Verrett? (Mike Hammer)
I’m not sure Ward will be available for Sunday’s game because of the surgery following his broken finger. He wore a large contraption on his right hand and was off-limits for contact. If Ward is healthy -- he suits up -- of course. Then, the 49ers have a decision of which defensive back sits.

Would Minkah Fitzpatrick be explored as a possibility at all? (Hugo Barraza)
Any conversations on Minkah becoming a Niner? (Philip Malan)
Any time a good player becomes available, it makes sense for all teams to “explore” the option. I’m not sure it makes sense for the 49ers if Miami is seeking a first-round draft pick (as you would expect them to ask in return).

Fitzpatrick has already played one season, and they would be getting a player during his second season. Therefore, you’re giving away a first-round draft pick and not getting the full benefit of the four-year contract for a drafted rookie.

Look ahead a year, and where might the 49ers need to bolster their roster? Good safeties are typically available in the second and third rounds. The 49ers selected Tarvarius Moore in the third round. My guess is the 49ers will want to keep their options open for which position to address with their first-round pick in 2020.

Who are the starting wide receivers for the 49ers? (Taylor Savinon)
The starting receivers are Deebo Samuel and Marquise Goodwin. Ideally, the 49ers would like Dante Pettis to step up and take over a starting job. That way, Goodwin can be used in more of a specialized role to take advantage of his speed. Pettis, who was on the field for just two snaps in Week 1, will see more action on Sunday. Coach Kyle Shanahan is not locked into two players being the starters for the entire season. He is leaving the door open to someone seizing a role.

Do you think Trent Taylor will be back before October? (Chris Lynn Overstreet)
No, it appears that the plan for Taylor is to be available for the Week 5 game (after the bye week) on Monday, Oct. 7, against the Cleveland Browns. (By the way, I still think Taylor has a decent chance to lead the 49ers’ wide receivers in receptions this season.)

The mysterious case of Jalen Hurd's back? (Colin Hillsinger)
Hurd’s back condition has kept him sidelined longer than expected, for sure. Understandably, he wants to make sure he’s feeling as if he’s all the way back before returning to practice and games. The 49ers hope he’ll be ready to play after the bye week, too.

I see this year as Jimmy’s prove-it year. But all the sudden people are saying they may move on sooner rather than later. I feel that is unfounded. What are your thoughts? (Kristopher Kramer)
It is all very speculative, of course. If he plays horribly and is seen as a reason they are not winning games, then, of course, the 49ers will have a decision to make down the road. Nobody is anywhere near that point right now. In Week 1, he was not great and he was not bad. The 49ers still believe in him.

Is there any interest at all in a Melvin Gordon trade if the running backs we have keep getting hurt? (Emanuel Lucero)
I do not envision the 49ers trading a high draft pick AND giving Gordon the kind of money he is seeking from a contract extension. Tevin Coleman will be back shortly after the bye week. Right now, they appear to be fine going with Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson.

[RELATED: Five 49ers to watch in Week 2: Nothing changes with Matt Breida as lead back]

Is the team concerned about the poor run defense against Tampa Bay? (Richard Word)
The very essence of the wide-9 alignment enables bigger holes to develop between the tackles. So the 49ers are fully aware that there will be challenges in stopping the run. In the first half, the Buccaneers averaged just 2.8 yards a carry. Kwon Alexander was on the field in the first quarter.

In the second half, the Buccaneers were playing catchup, and the 49ers were focused on getting pressure on Jameis Winston, so that enabled Tampa Bay to pick up yards on the ground.

If opposing offenses are getting important yards on the ground, I think it’s a simple adjustment to make to tighten up the defensive ends and take away those big inside running lanes. That’s the challenge for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. He must determine if the positives from the wide-9 outweigh the negatives on a down-to-down basis.

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