Cornerback Josh Norman was benched Sunday for the second time this season after being penalized.
This one might be permanent.
Norman’s sixth pass-interference penalty of the season — and his team-worst 10th overall — was enough for the 49ers’ coaching staff to remove him from the fourth quarter of a three-point game Sunday against the Houston Texans.
The 49ers inserted veteran Dontae Johnson into the game in place of Norman to finish off the team’s crucial 23-7 victory at Levi's Stadium.
Was Norman injured?
“No, we just went with Dontae after that P.I.,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.
Things did not get off to a great start for Johnson, either.
One play after Norman’s 33-yard penalty, Johnson was flagged for a 23-yard pass-interference infraction.
Later, Johnson broke up a fourth-down pass to help preserve the victory.
Now, the 49ers must decide which cornerbacks will start against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18. The 49ers need a victory or a New Orleans Saints loss to the Atlanta Falcons to qualify for the NFC playoffs.
Starting cornerback Emmanuel Moseley is considered a long shot to return to action for the final regular season game after sustaining a high ankle sprain on Dec. 5 against the Seattle Seahawks. Rookie Ambry Thomas made his fourth consecutive start on Sunday.
On the season, Norman has been responsible for 95 yards in penalties and seven first downs. Three of his penalties have been declined to let bigger plays stand. Norman was benched earlier this season after he was called for a taunting penalty when he had words for Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury in Week 9.
Norman, a 10-year pro, signed with the 49ers to be a backup the week leading up to the first game of the season. But he was forced into the starting lineup after Jason Verrett sustained a season-ending knee injury in Week 1. Norman has started all 14 games in which he has appeared this season.
He played 46 snaps on Sunday against the Texans. Johnson entered and saw action on the final 21 defensive plays of the game.
Here is how much action every 49ers player saw on offense, defense and special teams . . .
Quarterback: Trey Lance 62
Running back: Elijah Mitchell 36, Kyle Juszczyk 34, Jeff Wilson 12, JaMycal Hasty 7
Wide receiver: Brandon Aiyuk 56, Deebo Samuel 53, Jauan Jennings 30, Trent Sherfield 8, Travis Benjamin 2
Tight end: George Kittle 59, Charlie Woerner 10, Ross Dwelley 3
Offensive line: Laken Tomlinson 62, Daniel Brunskill 62, Tom Compton 62, Alex Mack 62, Trent Williams 59, Jaylon Moore 3
Defensive line: Arik Armstead 51, Nick Bosa 49, Samson Ebukam 40, D.J. Jones 26, Arden Key 25, Kentavius Street 23, Charles Omenihu 20, Kevin Givens 19, Jordan Willis 16
Linebacker: Fred Warner 67, Marcell Harris 55, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles 14
Cornerback: Ambry Thomas 67, Josh Norman 46, K’Waun Williams 54, Dontae Johnson 21, Deommodore Lenoir 8
Safety: Jimmie Ward 67, Jaquiski Tartt 67, Jarrod Wilson 2
Special teams: Woerner 18, Mark Nzeocha 17, Johnson 17, Wilson 17, Trent Sherfield 15, Flannigan-Fowles 15, River Cracraft 14, Lenoir 12, Robbie Gould 10, Armstead 10, Taybor Pepper 9, Mitch Wishnowsky 9, Curtis Robinson 9, Hasty 9, Dwelley 8, Jones 8, Jeff Wilson 7, Willis 6, Aaron Banks 5, Jake Brendel 5, Brunskill 5, Tomlinson 5, Compton 5, Aiyuk 5, Juszczyk 4, Tartt 4, Key 4, Omenihu 4, Bosa 3, Ebukam 3, Warner 3, Harris 3, K.Williams 3, Ward 2, Benjamin 2
Did not play: QB Nate Sudfeld
Not active: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (thumb), S Talanoa Hufanga (knee), LB Azeez Al-Shaair (knee), LB Dre Greenlaw (groin), OL Colton McKivitz, TE Tanner Hudson, DL Maurice Hurst (calf)