49ers Work Out 2-Time Pro Bowler Ahead of NFL Playoffs

Casey Hayward worked out for the 49ers ahead of their run in the NFL playoffs.

Casey Hayward worked out for the 49ers ahead of their run in the NFL playoffs.

It has been 15 months since cornerback Casey Hayward has appeared in an NFL game for the Falcons. Hayward was released last spring by Atlanta after suffering a pectoral/shoulder injury and has not been able to get back on the field despite multiple calls for teams (including the San Francisco 49ers) to sign him. The 49ers might finally follow through, as Hayward worked out for the team on Tuesday as it scrambles to find depth for its run in the NFL playoffs.

He would make an intriguing fit for the 49ers, who are searching for depth in the defensive backfield after a swath of injuries has left the unit thinned out. The latest came to cornerback Jason Verrett, who suffered yet another setback in his attempt to get back onto an NFL field after a series of injuries.

Verrett was on the 49ers practice squad when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Hayward would be an option to replace him.

“Well, we’re allowed six veterans on the practice squad, and we like those veterans to be guys who can help us in a pinch,” coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Tuesday. “So, losing JV was tough. So we wanted to make sure we at least got to get another corner in. We want to take a look at some vets since that spot opened up.”

Casey Hayward Overcame Injuries in Hopes of a Return

Hayward, who is 34, needed time to recover from his injury entering the 2023 campaign, and thus could not sign on with a team in training camp. Once the season got underway, he was finally deemed to be healthy and ready to play.

As NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport posted on Twitter/X in September, on the eve of the start of the season, “Veteran CB Casey Hayward has been fully cleared from his pectoral injury and is now ready to return to football, sources say. The Pro Bowler, who played for the #Falcons last year, is preparing for his 12th season.”

But Hayward was not able to drum up interest in his services, which was strange considering his extensive background.

As Bleacher Report wrote of Hayward at midseason: “(NFL teams) be hard-pressed to find someone with a better résumé than Casey Hayward’s.

“The 11-year veteran has 25 interceptions, 112 passes defended and has made two Pro Bowls in his career. While he battled injuries with the Falcons last year, he’s been medically cleared since September and is just two seasons removed from logging 10 combined picks and PBUs as the Raiders’ No. 1 corner.”

49ers Seek Depth for NFL Playoffs

The 49ers have done their best to reinforce themselves with veteran players in all areas of the roster heading into the NFL playoffs. They most recently brought in defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day to gird against the possibility of Arik Armstead missing playoff time because of plantar fasciitis. Hayward would fill a practice squad spot, but he would be ready for a call-up if needed.

The 49ers also earlier added veteran safety Logan Ryan, and he has been pressed into a starting role with Ji’Ayir Brown injured.

“Logan’s been great,” Shanahan said. “That’s kind of what we hoped for you. We knew how he was when he was playing and you never know when you’re getting a guy in the middle of the year. But we thought because of how thin we were getting that safety, that we needed a guy with experience.”

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