49ers’ Kyle Shanahan Addresses CB Situation: ‘Weren’t Fully Ready for It’

Josh Norman

Getty Fans and media are calling for the release of Josh Norman, right, after his costly taunting penalty against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 9.

Calls for the San Francisco 49ers to cut cornerback Josh Norman are growing louder in wake of Norman’s costly, if not symbolic, penalty at the end of the first half of Sunday’s 31-17 Week 9 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

On Monday, November 8, SB Nation’s Kyle Posey joined the chorus chirping for the cornerback’s release from the team, as more outlets outside of the Bay Area are doing the same.

“You have to draw the line somewhere,” Posey wrote in his column, citing the need to set an example out of Norman for a locker room that, at 3-5, looks dangerously close to self-combusting.

Reactions to Norman’s taunting penalty – which came after a scuffle with a Cardinals player and grew into a verbal spat with Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury on what would have been a 4th-and-long  – were harsh immediately after the infraction. But they’ve grown in reach in just two days to include videos and pictures circulating online of Norman scuffling when he was a player with the Carolina Panthers and elsewhere as a reminder that Norman’s hot-headed foul wasn’t out of the norm.

Perhaps most famously, Norman mixed it up on the field with former New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. That image made the online rounds as well.

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Shanahan: Rookie Cornerbacks ‘Weren’t Fully Ready for It’

But it appears Norman isn’t going anywhere.

Shanahan told reporters during a media conference call on November 8 that he didn’t want Norman benched for the remainder of the game, which the cornerback was, but Shanahan didn’t overrule his defensive coaches when he noticed Norman hadn’t returned to the game in the second half.

“I like the way that he plays, but they wanted to roll with Dre (Kirkpatrick),” Shanahan said of Norman. “And I fully supported that for that second half.”

Norman also suffered a rib injury at some point in the game. It will limit his practice time this week, the coach added.

Part of the reason Norman appears primed to stay put is because nobody on the depth chart is ready to replace him, at least, according to Shanahan. He told reporters during the call that the rookie cornerbacks Deommodore Lenoir and Ambry Thomas weren’t prepared enough to be relied upon.

Lenoir was taken in the fifth round out of the University of Oregon. Thomas was taken in the third round out of the University of Michigan.

“And when you look at our corners, the third-round pick, the fifth-round pick, we weren’t bringing any of them here to, we felt, start,” Shanahan said. “We were hoping that they could add some depth and be guys who could play on our team and possibly do that next year. Unfortunately, having some injuries that we had early, we needed them earlier than we thought we would. And unfortunately, they weren’t fully ready for it.”

Fan Base Starting to Turn on Shanahan

Kyle Shanahan


It can be difficult to grasp completely a third-round pick on defense not being ready for NFL action halfway through the season. Shanahan himself clarified in his explanation about the rookies that he was a bit surprised at the progression as well.

“And yeah, I wish they were (ready),” he said. “But the third-round pick and the fifth-round pick, they weren’t, and that’s why we’ve gone with veterans instead of them. Trying to get them some time to get to where they need to be.”

Shanahan’s admission, if that’s what you want to call it, is being used by his detractors that the coach is failing at his job. Calls questioning if he’s the right man for the position are becoming as widespread as the ones asking for Norman’s one-way ticket out of town.

Since taking over in 2017, Shanahan has gone 32-39 with the 49ers, including three seasons of 10-plus losses, which leaves him with a winning percentage of .444.

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