No. 3: 49ers Cornerback Josh Norman
It doesn’t seem too long ago 49ers fans were pulling their hair out watching veteran cornerback Josh Norman in coverage, frequently getting too handsy with opposing wide receivers and committing the all-too-often pass-interference penalty or defensive holding.
Heck, even we called Norman out, suggesting the 33-year-old veteran wasn’t providing much of a solution. And as long as the Niners were losing, it made little sense to play Norman over younger cornerbacks who’ll be on the roster next year.
But things have turned around for Norman. A lot.
Norman is no longer towards the top of NFL penalty leaders this season, and San Francisco has enjoyed a relatively clean stretch of defense the last four weeks, particularly in the pass-interference department, Norman’s play control being a key reason why.
Yet Norman’s resurgence goes beyond just not getting flagged, though, as he has also proven to be an improved contributor to the defense. Over the last four weeks, Norman has one interception, two pass breakups and two forced fumbles, the last stat leading to his NFL-best five forced fumbles on the year.
He still might not exactly be a long-term answer at the position. But the days of Norman being a scapegoat for all the secondary’s problems seem to have passed.