Following the San Francisco 49ers Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions, Kyle Shanahan joined his team in the locker room postgame and posed the question, "how does everyone feel after the win?"
Silence filled the Ford Field visitors locker room.
For one, the team, who had as large as a 28-point lead, allowed two touchdowns within two minutes of each other late in the fourth quarter, threatening San Francisco's impending victory. But the toughest pill for the locker room to swallow after the game, even more so than the unsettling win, was the loss of veteran cornerback Jason Verrett.
With just under eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, Verrett went down with a non-contact injury while defending Lions wide receiver Trinity Benson. As soon as the injury occurred, Verrett fell to the turf in obvious pain and emotion, prognostically fearing the worst.
It was a deflating gut punch to the entire 49ers sideline. It reflected in the team's energy and performance in the final quarter of the game.
On Monday, Kyle Shanahan confirmed the news of an ACL tear for the cornerback, a heartbreaking season-ending injury for Verrett, who has battled through injuries throughout his NFL career.
Of his eight NFL seasons, six have either ended on Injured Reserve, or the corner never took the field due to injury, dating back to a labrum tear is rookie season with the then-San Diego Chargers.
He finished out the second 13-game season of his career last year with the 49ers, notching two interceptions, seven passes defended and 60 total tackles as part of San Francisco's fourth-ranked passing defense.
The 49ers already headed into the season with a relatively thin cornerback group. Fellow starter Emmanuel Moseley missed a week of practice while dealing with a knee injury of his own. San Francisco leaned on fifth-round corner Deommodore Lenoir in his absence, who allowed just one reception for three yards on four targets in his 55 snaps on Sunday. Fellow rookie Ambry Thomas played nine snaps and Dontae Johnson, who was called up from the team's practice squad on Saturday, stepped in for Verrett to close out the fourth quarter.
San Francisco is likely to look to veteran corner Josh Norman, who signed with the team last Monday, to make his quick 49ers debut after missing an entire offseason training as a free agent.
"He was definitely ready to go (on Sunday)," Shanahan said postgame. "He actually said if we tell him today that he's up, he'll be ready to go. So, Josh has been a soldier all week and I'm really excited to have him here. I know he was ready this week, so I expect him to be ready next week also."
Regardless which side of the ball you're on, Verrett's injury impacted the entire locker room. According to Shanahan, the corner will stay around the team as they travel to West Virginia ahead of the Week 2 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. The team plans to fly out his family during the week-long stay.
Several 49ers spoke out after the game about the impact of Verrett's injury and how tough of a loss it is to be without the Pro Bowl corner.
Kyle Shanahan: "It's crushing. I'm hoping for the best but it's crushing. The bad luck he's had and putting it together these last two years, staying healthy, how good of a camp he had. 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."
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: "I think we all kind of felt that. JV, he's one of those guys that's battled back from a lot of stuff throughout his whole career, not just with us but back before that even. It's tough to see a guy go down like that. I don't know what it is exactly, but you just hate to see it. We're pulling for him. We're all in it together for him. It's tough, though."
LB Fred Warner: "It was really tough. That's my brother, just like everybody else on that field. I know we all know the journey he's gone through. (I'm) pulling for him. Whatever the news is I've got his back."
TE George Kittle: "JV has been a leader on this team. He's played at a high level, got hurt. Played at a high level, got hurt. I mean, it's awful. It definitely knocks the wind out of your sails. He's a leader on this team. He's a guy that's consistent - shows up every single day and plays at a high level. He makes plays when we need them. He's reliable. And when that happens, it just sucks. He's a great football player, and I feel absolutely terrible for him and I know he's going to attack his rehab. We're going to miss him for however long he's out."
DL Dee Ford: "For me personally, we both kind of been up and down with the injuries. So, I was really, really tore up to see that. A guy that's fought to get in this position. You know, health is one of the biggest things that athletes go through. So, just to see that happen to him, praying the best for him. He's a soldier, so he'll be all right. But wasn't a good thing for me to see."
WR Deebo Samuel: "It's kind of hard because JV is a great guy. He'd been working so hard to come out here and prove himself. And then just to see him go down... You can tell it took a toll on the team."
-- The 49ers wish Verrett a healthy and speedy recovery.
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