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Lavelle Hawkins manages three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties

Lavelle Hawkins had a day to remember on Sunday, and not entirely for good reasons. We break down his performance and penalties.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday was a good and bad day for 49ers wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins. On the plus side, Hawkins ran a kick back 105 yards for a touchdown and caught a 22-yard pass. On the minus side, he managed three unsportsmanlike penalties at the end of those plays, costing the team 30 yards (and 15 declined yards) in penalties after the plays. Not so smart.

The first two penalties came on the kick return. Hawkins put together a great return, but capped it first by some taunting at the end of the return, and then by removing his helmet after he scored. Here's a GIF of the play:


The first flag would seem to have been for waving the ball a bit before the high-stepping at the end. That strikes me as rather ticky-tack. The second flag was for removing his helmet. That was well-deserved as it is arguably the most basic rule of the game at this point. Unlike Aldon Smith's helmet sort of slipping off a little bit last year against the Packers, this was very clearly removing the helmet at the end of the play.

Later in the game, after Hawkins hauled in the 22-yard pass, he was walking back toward the huddle and decided to give one of the Vikings a little head-butt.


It is worth noting that Vikings player is Desmond Bishop, a former teammate of Hawkins at Cal and City College of San Francisco. That doesn't excuse it, but it might explain it a little bit more. It was still going to get Hawkins a flag, but it's worth a mention.

The media asked Coach Harbaugh about the penalties after the game:

WR Lavelle Hawkins had a couple of nice plays, he also followed them up with penalties. I guess, in the final assessment, did he hurt his chances tonight by what happened after those plays?

"Especially, after you point it out, one strike, two strikes, probably the two-strike level. He did score a touchdown and had a big catch. He's definitely got to do a better job of not getting emotionally high jacked after doing something great."

As it currently stands, Hawkins is on the wrong side of the roster bubble, at a position that is looking a little more sure-handed three games into the preseason. Hawkins might make it through Tuesday's roster cuts, but stupid penalties do nothing to help make the 53-man roster. I would be surprised if he secured a roster spot at this point. But maybe the fire and emotion is something Jim Harbaugh can get behind. I'm not holding my breath on that, but you never know.

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