In the second quarter of Sunday’s game, a seemingly humorous altercation between San Francisco 49ers cornerback Josh Norman and Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury swiftly developed into a costly Niners penalty and Norman’s benching.
In the 49ers loss to the Arizona Cardinals Josh Norman’s friendly chat with Kliff Kingsbury leads to a costly penalty
With 4:02 left in the second quarter, a 10-yard taunting penalty on Norman gave Arizona a first down on a drive that finished with a field goal, putting the Cardinals up 17-3. The Cardinals went on to win the game 31-17. After the expensive penalty, Norman did not return to the game, and veteran Dre Kirkpatrick took his place at outside cornerback. Kyle Shanahan, 49ers coach, said, “I wanted him to get out right there.” “I wished for him to calm down a little. Then, in the third quarter, we simply kept Dre in, which wasn’t my choice but was fine with me.” The conversation began with a seemingly innocuous back-and-forth between Norman and Kingsbury.
With 6:47 left in the first half, the 49ers appeared to be on their way off the field after a first half in which defensive stops were hard to come by. The Niners stopped receiver Rondale Moore for a 2-yard loss on third-and-18 at the 49ers’ 19-yard line, but Kingsbury jumped on the field before the play concluded to rage at the officials. A penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct would have sent the ball back to San Francisco’s 36 yard line, setting up a 54-yard field goal or a punt. Instead, Norman into the fray on Arizona’s sideline, exchanging words with Kingsbury. “I like Josh, and I’m familiar with Josh,” Kingsbury added. “I believe it was simply friendly banter that was misunderstood.
But I shouldn’t have been out there in the first place…. He was probably simply reminding me that what I said to the referee to get the original punishment wasn’t very wise. But believe me when I say it wasn’t malicious.” As Kingsbury and Norman exchanged yelling, Cardinals offensive tackle D.J. Humphries moved in and seemed to lightly headbutt Norman, setting off a series of events that resulted in the 10-yard taunting penalty. Instead of offsetting flags, league rules require that the on-field foul, in this case Norman’s, be assessed first, giving Arizona a first down but advancing the ball half-way to the goal. Then the penalty on Kingsbury is called, sending the ball back 15 yards but giving Arizona a first-and-goal at the San Francisco 25.
“I have no idea what happened,” said 49ers linebacker Fred Warner. “I noticed that they had a flag for something they had done. I had no idea Josh was messing around with their athletes. That’s a hefty fine. I had no idea it would result in an automatic first down.” Even though the Niners prevented Arizona from scoring a score, the Cardinals responded with a 26-yard field goal four plays later in a game they never trailed. Norman, who was unavailable for comment after the game, is tied for second in the league among cornerbacks with five enforced penalties in six games this season.
While the penalty was far from the only factor in the 49ers’ loss, it was a costly blunder in a game full of them, as they fell to 3-5 overall and 0-3 in the NFC West. Shanahan expressed his disappointment by saying, “It’s quite frustrating.” “I don’t care what happens; whether the officials are correct or incorrect, you can’t allow them to make a mistake. It doesn’t matter to me whether you earned it or not; what matters is that you received it, and avoiding those is pretty simple. You need to get out of here as soon as possible.”
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