Sunday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is going to be a tough outing for the San Francisco 49ers secondary. The wide receivers for the Buccaneers are their strongest position group, including tight ends OJ Howard and Cameron Brate. Stalwart wideout Mike Evans is the obvious headliner of the group.
He is the main concern for the 49ers defense, but they don’t really have anyone that they can put on him and be successful. Not even Richard Sherman is enough to put the clamps on Evans and Ahkello Witherspoon would not fare any better. With all eyes on Mike Evans, it allows the rest of the receivers to have better matchups. Chris Godwin is a player who can easily gash the 49ers while everyone is worried about Evans.
That’s why Jason Verrett is the defensive X-factor for the San Francisco 49ers. It’s one thing for the 49ers to have Mike Evans best them, it’s another if Godwin and others are doing so. That’s not to say Godwin isn’t good, it’s just that the 49ers cannot afford to have anyone else go off against them. The secondary has always been lacking for the 49ers, so if Verrett is able to emerge then it opens the gates for the defense.
It would certainly make Robert Saleh more comfortable with blitzing since he has the corners for it. While Sherman and Witherspoon are busy with Evans the rest of the receivers will fall to Verrett. His performance could have a huge positive impact for the defense. Keeping Godwin at bay would make it difficult for Jameis Winston since it would limit his options.
It would also allow the 49ers to double Evans, which is most likely the only hope they have to slowing him down. If he’s playing strong enough, it could give Robert Saleh the confidence to give Verrett some snaps against Evans. The defense would certainly operate better if Verrett performs well. The key to a good secondary is having three viable cornerbacks since this is a passing league essentially.
Richard Sherman is undoubtedly one and Ahkello Witherspoon is working his way to becoming one. Verrett, when healthy, was always a stout corner. It’s not off base that he could pick up where he left off in tomorrow’s game. Hopefully he does because the 49ers could use his elite skills to help close out a win in week one.