Jason Verrett

Shanahan explains ‘experimenting' with Verrett in 49ers' loss to Ravens

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Veteran cornerback Jason Verrett returned to the field for the first time since 2021 during the 49ers' 33-19 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday.

And while it was unclear what Verrett's role would be when San Francisco signed him to the practice squad earlier this month before elevating him to its roster for the Christmas night contest, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan explained the decision to insert the cornerback in the second half of a tight game.

“There's a lot of different schematic things," Shanahan said Tuesday via conference call. "How you use receivers in different situations. Some guys run different routes better than others. Some guys have certain attributes that we like. We get to see a lot of it here in practice, and we want to know what options we can have for certain packages and things like that. So, the plan going into that game.

"We always dress five DBs and we ended up dressing J.V. over Sammy [Samuel Womack III]. We wanted to get him in there, start experimenting with a couple things. We planned on it being real short. I know our goal in the game was four to eight plays. I think he ended up getting five. So, just a part of some schematic things to know our options for the future.”

Verrett replaced third-year pro Ambry Thomas, who has helped bring stability to the 49ers' secondary while having the best season of his young career. Many fans questioned why Shanahan opted to test the waters and roll out the Verrett experiment in the middle of such a critical game.

That decision wound up being costly, as Verrett played just five snaps and allowed Lamar Jackson's touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor, which gave the Ravens a 23-12 lead early in the third quarter.

Shanahan dismissed the notion that there is a dissatisfaction with Deommodore Lenoir moving inside and Thomas playing outside, saying the 49ers' coaching staff likes the adjustment and how it's gone.

Lenoir sustained a rib injury during the Week 15 win over the Arizona Cardinals, but he played in Week 16. Meanwhile, Thomas sustained a hamstring injury in the Christmas Day game at Levi's Stadium.

If injuries persist for either corner, Shanahan was asked who would take that third spot in San Francisco's rotation.

“Well, that's something that we will decide here throughout the week, see how practice goes and everything," Shanahan said. "But I thought [CB Darrell] Luter [Jr.] stepped in and did a good job last night. It was good to see J.V. back out on the field for the first time in two years, to get his feet wet a little bit. We also have Sammy, who's played in that role also.

"So, we’ve got a number of options.”

The 49ers have a short week before Sunday's game against the Washington Commanders, and apparently, several important decisions to make.

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