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49ers’ cornerback situation ‘up in the air’ ahead of Rams game, says Kyle Shanahan

Jan 4, 2022 at 10:50 AM

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San Francisco 49ers cornerback Josh Norman exited late in Sunday's game against the Houston Texans. However, he was not among the names of injured players that head coach Kyle Shanahan rattled off during his post-game press conference. Instead, Dontae Johnson simply replaced Norman.

Norman committed his sixth pass-interference penalty of the season. That was enough for Shanahan, who admitted that the decision to bench the veteran defensive back in the fourth quarter was his to make.

Johnson entered the game and proceeded to draw a 23-yard pass-interference infraction himself. However, Johnson later broke up a fourth-down pass by Texans quarterback Davis Mills to help preserve the 49ers' ninth victory of the season.

San Francisco's cornerback situation is up in the air heading into the regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams. If the 49ers win, they are in the playoffs. They will hope for the Atlanta Falcons to knock off the New Orleans Saints if they lose.

"There's not a big jump between all those guys," head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday of his cornerback options and the decision to swap Norman out for Johnson. "So if we were struggling with P.I.s or anything like that, we were going to give Dontae a shot."

Shanahan noted that Johnson has been playing well for the 49ers, and rookie Ambry Thomas has improved in recent weeks.

Other factors will go into the cornerback decision for Sunday. Johnson was just placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, as was K'Waun Williams.

Emmanuel Moseley remains on injured reserve due to a high-ankle sprain suffered on December 5. However, Shanahan hopes he can return to practice on Wednesday and says the fourth-year defensive back has a chance to suit up on Sunday.

Who will be lined up on the outside for the 49ers against the Rams? Will it be Norman and Moseley? Johnson and Thomas? Perhaps it will be another combination of those four names.

"I think it's up in the air right now," Shanahan admitted. "Especially with Dontae going on COVID. Hopefully, all the protocols will go right, and we can get him back here in five days. But Josh has held up throughout the year.

"Dontae went in and did a good job, and I think Ambry's been doing really good, once he got his opportunity. And we'll see where Emmanuel's at this week, so hopefully, we'll end up having four good options."
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