Josh Norman committed a costly taunting penalty in the 49ers' 31-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on Sunday, and now the cornerback's future with the 49ers could be in doubt. He didn't see the field again after the ill-timed infraction, and though San Francisco didn't fare any better without him, that might have been a good thing.
Cardinals offensive lineman D.J. Humphries was the other player involved in the scuffle with Norman that led to the taunting penalty, and apparently he wasn't going to leave it at that. In speaking with reporters after the game, Humphries explained that he went looking for Norman.
"I really don't know what was happening, but you're not going to talk tough to my coach, especially not on the football field," Humphries said. "... Honestly, I have no clue what was going on. I just saw him walking at Kliff [Kingsbury] with his arms flexed like he's a tough guy, something like that, so I felt like I needed to go over there and nip it in the bud. I did.
"I didn't see him after the game," Humphries added. "I was looking for him after the game, but I didn't see him. I had my helmet off. I wanted to give him the advantage."
Prior to engaging with Humphries, Norman had been over near the Cardinals' sideline, appearing to get into a verbal exchange with Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury, who was also assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when the dust had settled.
After the loss, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan relayed Norman's perspective of the sequence.
"I didn't have much of a view on it," Shanahan told reporters. "Josh told me that some of their coaches were talking to him, so he was talking back. Then he told me he got headbutted by one of their offensive linemen, and then he said he got the taunting penalty."
Kingsbury didn't provide any specific details from his point of view, but he did express contrition for his involvement in the altercation.
"I like Josh. I know Josh," Kingsbury said after the game. "I think it was just friendly banter that got misinterpreted. I shouldn't have been out there doing that."
Sunday marked the second and final meeting between the 49ers and Cardinals this season, with Arizona prevailing in both contests. Norman and Humphries will have to wait till next season for another shot at each other. Of course, after taking the taunting penalty, there's no guarantee the former will be around for that.