Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

49ers DC DeMeco Ryans talks CB availability, says Josh Norman ‘in a really good place’

Sep 9, 2021 at 4:06 PM--

It remains to be seen what the 49ers will do at cornerback against the Detroit Lions on Sunday if starter Emmanuel Moseley is unable to play, but it's possible that recently-signed veteran Josh Norman may be able to contribute if called upon.

Moseley remained sidelined at practice on Thursday while dealing with a knee injury. Norman has less than a week of practice with the 49ers under his belt after being signed on September 6, which creates a question of whether or not he'd be in shape to play in Sunday's season opener. But defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans told reporters after practice on Thursday that Norman is trending in a positive direction despite his limited practice time.

"One thing about Josh is he's a veteran who has done it for a while," Ryans said. "Smart player. So he's still working through all those things, but Josh, he's in a really good place right now."

Ryans also gave some overall thoughts on the addition of the 33-year-old Norman, who was limited to nine games with the Buffalo Bills in 2020 due to injury issues and a positive test for COVID-19. Norman may not return to the form that saw him win first-team All-Pro honors with the Carolina Panthers in 2015, but he should at least be able to provide depth to a position where it's needed.

"Josh has been working well and we've had him here for a couple days," Ryans said. "He's been learning. He's been doing a really good job. You can tell (he's a) vet who's been around a for while and knows a lot of ball -- very smart player, instinctive player. He's made plays in this league since he first came into the league, so (I'm) excited to add some veteran depth to our corner position."

In addition to Norman, the 49ers have rookies Deommodore Lenoir and Ambry Thomas on the active roster as depth options behind Moseley and Jason Verrett, but it's also possible they could turn to veteran Dontae Johnson if need be. Johnson is currently on the practice squad after being cut to make room for Norman, but his availability and his experience with the 49ers make him a viable option.

"Dontae's just a consummate pro," Ryans said. "You can always count on Dontae to be ready. I know he's been through a lot of ups and downs -- on the roster, off the roster, practice squad -- but Dontae the man has never wavered. He's the same every day. He's always there leading the younger guys, helping those guys out. When we put him in there, he's able to perform the techniques that we ask him to do, so I'm just very appreciative of Dontae and his role and what he's meant to his organization. He's an important piece and I'm happy we're able to get him back. But I love Dontae, love his spirit, love his energy, and I really love his leadership that he provides for our young guys."

The 49ers also have another veteran on the practice squad in Dee Virgin, who was signed on September 3. Virgin played with the Lions over the past three seasons.

"We have a lot of options of guys who have played in our scheme and who have done it," Ryans said.

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