SANTA CLARA -- After a costly taunting penalty, Josh Norman’s 49ers future could be in question.
In Sunday’s 31-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the veteran cornerback was penalized for taunting after getting into a tussle along the Cardinals' sideline. On the same play, Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
If Norman hadn't committed the foul, the Cardinals would have been pinned back in a fourth-and-35 situation on San Francisco's 36-yard line. Matt Prater's field-goal attempt would have been a much-longer 54-yard effort.
Instead, the Cardinals received an automatic first down, moved the ball another 14 yards and set up Prater for a successful 26-yard field goal.
Norman quickly exited the game and was seen sitting on the bench while the 49ers' defense continued to play. He didn't return to the field of play for the remainder of the contest at Levi's Stadium.
After the game, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan shared that he initially wanted Norman out in order to cool off. Shanahan added that it wasn't his decision to keep Norman sidelined for the remainder of the game, but he was fine with it.
“It was very disappointing,” Shanahan said. “I don’t care what happens. Whether the refs are right or wrong, you can’t give them the chance to be wrong. It doesn’t matter to me whether you deserve it or you didn’t, it’s that you got it, and it’s very easy to avoid those. You get the hell away.”
Shanahan shared that he didn’t see what happened from his vantage point, but the coach said Norman did try to explain the situation to him.
“Josh told me that some of their coaches were talking to him and he was talking back,” Shanahan said. “Then he told me he got head-butted by one of their offensive linemen. And then he said he got the taunting penalty.”
This could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back for Norman. The 49ers were looking at the former All-Pro to be a leader on defense, similar to the role Richard Sherman held during his three-year 49ers stint.
Instead, Norman has been responsible for multiple costly defensive pass-interference penalties throughout his short five-game tenure. So, it might be time for the 49ers to start allowing young defensive backs Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir to gain some valuable playing experience.