In a move that feels five years past its use-by date, the San Francisco 49ers have signed former All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman to help shore up their defensive backfield.
If this were 2016, I would more than champion the move by San Fran, but at this point, we must wonder how much Norman has left in the tank. It’s not that Norman needs to be the elite level (though it would be nice) CB he once was, but the Niners do need him to be solid on the outside and not get roasted in coverage too often.
Norman played with the Buffalo Bills last season but was hampered by a hamstring injury limiting him to playing in just nine games and starting three of those. At this point, Norman might be most remembered by fans for his “run in” with Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry. Attempting to arm tackle a back the size of Henry never really ends well for a defensive back. Hell, most linebackers have trouble bringing Henry to the ground.
The past couple of years haven’t been kind to Norman on the field. In 2019, his last in Washington, Norman was eventually benched, playing in 12 games that year. This version of Norman is far from the player we saw in 2015 (All-Pro) & 2016 when he tallied seven interceptions and two touchdowns.
Norman’s beef with Odell Beckham Jr. feels like centuries ago, as both players have fallen on hard times over the past couple of years, whether due to injury or ineffectiveness on the field. Norman now has a chance to show he can still be an effective corner and maybe even a starter again in the NFL.
This is another prove it year for Norman as there may not be many more opportunities for him if he can’t show that he can be a solid contributor to this Niners defense. Yes, the Niners have been solid up front recently, but the backend is where the team has struggled at times. Norman has been brought in to add depth and another veteran presence at the position.
Norman should be fine and have a good season if the Niners can continue to get home rushing the passer. If the pass rush can’t be as potent as it has been in recent years, then it will be a long season for Norman and the rest of that 49ers defensive backfield.
The Niners play the TItans in week 16 this year, in case you were wondering. If we’re lucky, we’ll get Round 2 of Norman v. Henry, and see if Josh can extract a little revenge over the beast in that Tennessee backfield.