This picture is from a catch Vernon Davis made that borders on the amazingly insane. He leapt up between two Rams defenders and hauled in a touchdown pass with his fingertips, and managed to secure the ball as he crashed to the earth and also get two feet in the end zone. Oh, and it was also called back because of a holding penalty. It wasn't the worst hold in the world, but given the way the refs were throwing flags against the 49ers it was not surprising that they called this one back.
Over the course of this season, a recurring theme has been the abundance of penalties. There's no such thing as a good penalty. However, sometimes when we see a big play called back because of a penalty, we can see from the replay that the big play would likely not have happened had the penalty not been committed. Examples of this can be seen primarily with holding penalties.
The 2010 San Francisco 49ers have committed some of these kinds of penalties, but more often than not they have been committing penalties that qualify as stupid and pointless. And yesterday's game was the ultimate example of this team shooting themselves in the foot. They managed to figure out a way to win the game but it certainly wasn't pretty. The team committed 14 penalties losing 105 yards. More importantly, they had three touchdowns and a Nate Clements interception nullified because of the penalties. I don't think I've ever seen that many points and that many huge impact plays taken off the board in a single game.
If this was one game (even this bad a performance) or even just one of a couple games, I might be able to write it off as just stupid mistakes that happen. Unfortunately we're seeing this over and over and over again. It seems like win or lose, every game features monumentally stupid mistakes. On the one hand the buck eventually has to stop with the coaching staff. On the other hand, the coaching staff can only do so much before it's on the players to perform during the games.
So who's to blame, and more importantly, how can this be rectified? The 49ers might be able to stumble their way to the NFC West division title but the already difficult road is not going to be any easier if they keep piling up the penalties. It's great the team didn't turn the ball over yesterday, but that is only so helpful when you're giving up yards like crazy.