49ers add cornerback Jason Verrett, wide receiver Jordan Matthews
The 49ers signed two highly talented, highly injured players to one-year contracts Thursday afternoon.
First, they signed cornerback Jason Verrett, a former first-round pick who’s had two ACL surgeries and one Achilles surgery since 2016. He has played just five games the past three seasons.
Next, the 49ers signed wide receiver Jordan Matthews, a former second-round pick who had knee and ankle surgery in 2017. He hasn’t been the same since.
Verrett, 27, was the 25th pick in 2014. He grew up in Fairfield, played college football at Santa Rosa Junior College in 2010, transferred to Texas Christian University in 2011, graduated in 2013 and spent the past five seasons with the Chargers.
In 2014, Verrett’s rookie season, he missed two games with a hamstring injury and eight games with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
In 2015, he missed only two games and played well — he broke up 12 passes and intercepted three. But in 2016, he missed 12 games with a partially torn ACL in his left knee, which required surgery after the season. In 2017, he injured the same ACL in Week 1, had another surgery and missed 15 games.
In 2018, Verrett tore his right Achilles tendon on the first day of training camp and missed the entire season. He said it’s possible his knee injuries led to the Achilles tear. “There could have been some overcompensation,” Verrett explained Thursday in the 49ers’ media workroom, where he was made available to reporters. He meant he may have overused his right leg to protect his injured left leg.
Verrett said he suffered his Achilles tear during a conditioning test. “It was the last turn before heading to the finish line. It felt like somebody kicked me. Went down. Kind of blacked out. That’s in the past, though. My body feels good. I’m on track with the way my Achilles is healing now. Meeting with the doctors and staff here to get on the same page. Looking forward to the season.”
Verrett has spent the past two months rehabbing in Orange County and said he plans to continue his rehab there. When he’s healthy enough to join the 49ers and practice with the team, he will compete for a starting job with 2017 third-round pick Ahkello Witherspoon and 2018 third-round pick Tarvarius Moore.
“If you don’t like to compete, you don’t need to be in the league,” Verrett said. “I’m a competitor, and I’m willing to compete with anybody.”
Jordan Matthews also may compete for a starting job at wide receiver.
Matthews, 26, is a distant cousin of 49ers Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice. Matthews went to Vanderbilt and was the 42nd pick in 2014. He played well the first three seasons of his NFL career.
He started 36 games in the slot for the Philadelphia Eagles, caught 225 passes, gained 2,673 yards and scored 19 touchdowns.
In 2017, the Eagles traded Matthews to the Buffalo Bills, and he had a down season. He caught just 25 passes for 282 yards and one touchdown. Then, he spent the final four games on the injured reserve list with tendinitis in his left knee, which he said bothered him all season. After the season, he had surgery on his left knee and right ankle.