Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers announced Wednesday that they have rescinded the non-exclusive franchise tag on CB Josh Norman, immediately making him an unrestricted free agent. The San Francisco 49ers are sitting pretty with $52.6 million in cap space and expressed strong interest in adding a cornerback when the new league year started back in March. They were one of the teams involved in the chase for former Kansas City Chiefs CB Sean Smith, who eventually decided to sign with the Oakland Raiders.

Norman, who expressed love for the Bay Area leading up to the Panthers' game against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, had Pro Football Focus' third highest coverage grade among corners last year (+16.8) and led all corners with a passer rating allowed of 54.0.

"I've loved it," Norman said during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. "I woke up this morning, opened my curtains and saw the hills of the valley. It's so gorgeous."

With so much cap space available, could the 49ers look to solidify a defensive position and improve their passing defense, which ranked 27th in the league last season, allowing 261.2 yards per game?

"After a number of conversations with Josh's agent we realized that a long-term deal was not attainable," Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman said on Wednesday. "We have decided to rescind the Franchise Tag freeing Josh to immediately become a UFA. We thank Josh for all his contributions and truly wish him well."