Josh Norman on the acclimation process of being in NFL practice again: “It’s truly been one of those tornadoes.” pic.twitter.com/CViamxjIv8
— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) September 10, 2021
The 49ers had a glaring need at corner, even if Emmanuel Moseley was healthy. Then, Emmanuel Moseley got injured for the second time in training camp, making it his third absence, including his time on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The only other active backup corners on the roster were rookies Deommodore Lenoir and Ambry Thomas, and veteran Dontae Johnson.
Thomas didn’t exactly look stellar in training camp; he kept most throws short and underneath, but played fairly conservatively, and didn’t look comfortable as a tackler. Lenoir, meanwhile, excelled, and consistently found himself around the ball, and showed himself as an aggressive, reliable tackler. Clearly, though, with Jason Verrett having a litany of serious injuries in his career and Moseley dealing with some himself, that depth wasn’t sufficient.
So, Norman was brought in this week, with Moseley listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game, having not played once. General manager John Lynch said another player fell on him in practice and caused a knee injury which should have Moseley back for Week 2.
Norman said Friday that the 49ers were at the top of his list, and that, as a 10-year veteran, his only goal was to join a team capable of competing for a championship. He declined to say what other teams were in the mix for his service, but said that the reason he waited so long to sign was that he wanted to “get it right.” He wanted to make sure he was signed before the start of the season, and that he and the 49ers made headway on a deal over the last week.
“We’ve been talking to each other for a while, been courting each other for quite some time,” Norman said “Two, three months we’ve been courting each other… the 49ers stuck with us the whole time and we ended up talking and came to where we wanted to be in the sense of I’m here to win a championship. It’s not so much about the numbers now that it is about getting a ring on my hand, and hoisting the Lombardi. It’s something I’ve always cherished and I feel like this has that ability and capability to make that happen.”
As for his game readiness, well, it’s not immediately clear where Norman is at. He clearly had to shake off some rust, and spoke at length (shown in the video above) about the difficulty of coming back into an NFL practice setting after being away for a while.
He described as “one of those tornadoes,” which indicates it’s not exactly been an easy process.
Asked whether he’d be able to play 40-50 snaps on Sunday, Norman said he’s ready, at least mentally.
“My mindset is. I see nothing wrong with that from my mindest being a state where I’m ready to go,” Norman said. “You always got to be ready to go. It’s your professional job, your assignment whether you just came off the street, or if you’ve been here for a while, you always got to have that mindset.”
Whether it’s on Sunday or as the season progresses, it’s likely we’ll see some of Norman playing outside corner for the 49ers this season. While he’s not the All-Pro he once was, the depth elsewhere on the 49ers defense means he only really has to be serviceable.