Even though the 49ers are in the playoffs, these four players have already taken the field for the last time for San Francisco and will be gone next season.
It’s that time again, the San Francisco 49ers are back in the playoffs.
It’s been 18 long weeks of grueling, intense football, and it wasn’t always pretty. The Wild Card matches are set, the Niners visiting the Dallas Cowboys, and more than half of the league will have to watch from the comfort of their own living rooms.
Whether it sounds ridiculous to the fans of those other teams or not, your sights are officially set on Super Bowl 56.
And why not? Anything can happen on any given Sunday, and for the next couple of weeks, it can happen on a Saturday as well.
Your mind couldn’t be further from the offseason. Because starting the offseason today puts your team in the loss column, and all you can think about right now is winning. No matter when it happens, though, the process of letting players go is coming. Football is a business and it can be cutthroat.
For a number of guys, it’s inevitable, the hatchet will fall.
With that being said, here are four players who won’t be on the roster next season and have effectively played their final game with San Francisco already.
No. 1: 49ers Cornerback Josh Norman
Norman made a quick impact for the team, starting 14 games and proving his durability by playing over 70 percent of the defensive snaps. Despite his playing time, though, Norman received plenty of criticism at the position and is nearing the end of his career at 35 years of age.
Two big factors certainly not in his favor.
His age may not be the deciding factor due to lack of depth and proven talent at the cornerback position. But it certainly doesn’t help. If that wasn’t enough, his behavior over the past few weeks puts him further down the line as a priority to sign in the offseason.
In Week 16, Norman was roasted by Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown, who amassed 145 yards and a season-high 11 receptions. Norman then capped off the night with a pass-interference call that led to an eventual benching. Head coach Kyle Shanahan chose to extend the benching into the Los Angeles Rams game with the playoffs on the line.
That doesn’t sound like a guy who fits into the franchise plan moving forward.
Shanahan needs someone who’s cool under pressure and will set the example for the younger players. We’ll have to wait and see if Norman is a factor in the playoffs. That’s if he’s in the lineup.
Although it was only one play at the very end of the game, one would have to think that rookie Ambry Thomas is riding a high and would get the start.