49ers coaches pleased with early returns on CB Josh Norman

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The 49ers were in a desperate spot when they brought in 33-year-old veteran cornerback Josh Norman to start the week of their season opener. He might wind up being a key acquisition in their patchwork secondary.

Norman was inactive for Week 1 against the Lions since he had just a week of practice under his belt, but that script flipped in Week 2. San Francisco, because of injuries to Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley, started Norman opposite rookie Deommodore Lenoir.

He was targeted twice and drew two penalties, but head coach Kyle Shanahan was pleased with how he played.

“Yeah, I was real happy. I’ve been real happy with Josh since he’s been here,” Shanahan said.” I played against him in his career, so I’ve had a ton of respect for him. He’s been really good in practice. I know he had those two PIs in the game, but it wasn’t because he was just getting killed. He was playing competitive. He wasn’t scared to get beat. Trying to defend the go-route and trying to jump stuff underneath. So, I was happy with this play. Obviously, we want to eliminate those two penalties, but you can tell that he still looked like Josh Norman to me.”

The two pass interference penalties he drew were close calls and could’ve easily gone without a flag.

Still, it’s a testament to his play that those two throws his direction were the only times he was targeted all game against an explosive, dynamic young Eagles receiving corps. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans lauded Norman for his play on the field and what he brings when he’s not between the lines.

“I was pleased with Josh. I thought he stepped in and did really well,” Ryans said. “He competed, one thing about Josh, he competes every snap, no matter who he lines up against he’s going to compete. Has great energy. He’s great on the sideline with the guys. He’s a true vet, true leader, it’s been awesome being around Josh and he’s just fit in with our guys really well and he’s done a great job for the couple of weeks that he’s been here.”

Now entering Week 3 Norman has a chance to start with Moseley on track to return from a knee injury. If he starts and plays well, the 49ers might have established the quality necessary atop their depth chart to stabilize a position that looked shaky right away. And if he doesn’t get on the field, his veteran presence on the sideline could play a role down the line in the development of the 49ers’ secondary.