Just four days before they take on the Cleveland Browns under the bright lights of Monday Night Football, the 49ers released injury news that will hurt their depth for their first prime-time matchup.
Thursday afternoon, the 49ers announced the move to place both rookie wide receiver Jalen Hurd and veteran cornerback Jason Verrett on the Injured Reserve List.
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan gave some insight Thursday afternoon into Verrett’s injury, and what the Fairfield native had to go through after signing with the 49ers this offseason.
“You guys all know his history and how tough he’s had it coming back. He had an injury in training camp, a different one, that didn’t allow him to work for the last couple weeks of training camp. We’ve been trying to ease him back in these last three weeks. After the Pittsburgh game his knee just flared up over the week and coming back from Bye doctors’ advice was that he needed to rest it a lot longer. And so, we’re trying to do the best thing for him because he’s not ready to go so we’re trying to get him on IR.”
For both Hurd and Verrett, it was as simple as just resting. The 49ers were hoping to have Hurd back sooner rather than later, but the rookie was not progressing as quickly as they had hoped.
“It’s the same thing. It’s not the same thing as that, but it’s the same thing that he’s just got to rest. Anytime you have a stress fracture in your back, that was the hard thing with it. There are guys that have come back in three weeks and there are guys who it takes 10 weeks and there’s just as good of a chance to come back in three weeks as there is 10 weeks. We took that chance. It hasn’t been healing the way we wanted it to. The pain is still there, so we’ve got to give him at least another month. That’s the reason why we’ve got to put him on IR.”
In addition to the IR moves, the team has signed former Dontae Johnson to a one-year deal. Johnson was with the team from 2014-2017 before returning to the 49ers this summer for training camp.
Shortly after the series of moves, the 49ers brought back another familiar face in Jordan Matthews to add depth to a depleted wide receiver core.
Matthews nearly made the 49ers final 53-man roster out of training camp, as the veteran wide receiver developed a rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo early on in the summer. With both Hurd and Trent Taylor on I.R., Matthews may see plenty of work in the slot for the time being. Shanahan discussed how the 49ers may use Matthews, with both Taylor and Hurd on Injured Reserve:
“Yeah, it’s that we only have five receivers on our roster right now. We IR’d two, we had seven and we’ve been going with five, but we’ve been waiting for those two. Now that both of those are on IR, to me you always want at least six, you’d like to always have six receivers up because you’ll usually take five in a gameday. Jordan was a guy who was extremely close to making our team and we knew if those guys didn’t come back he’d be the next man up.”
Garoppolo discussed his already-established connection with Matthews before Thursday’s practice:
“Oh yeah, yeah, from the get-go, too. Jordan was one of the first guys that came up to me in the offseason and kind of wanted to learn the intricacies of the offense and everything and how it’s all tied together. Just his work ethic is incredible. There’s not many guys that I’ve have been around like that, so it’s great to have a guy like that back. … He’s got great hands, can catch everything. As the possession receiver he’s going to go make those tough catches for you. As a quarterback, you love to see that, especially out of a big guy. Just gives you confidence to throw those.”