The San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears put together quite the impressive effort on Sunday as the teams combined for 26 penalties in their Sunday Night Football contest. That number does not even reflect the numerous penalties that were declined or removed. For example, on one Bears punt, the Bears had three separate penalties, but only one counts among the 26. Carl Cheffers got his face time.
I blame the referees for destroying the flow of the game, but the 49ers did not do themselves any favors with their own execution outside the penalties. Sure it is frustrating, but Colin Kaepernick's interceptions, or the offensive line getting destroyed in pass coverage should not be happening, whether no penalties are called, or 100 penalties are called.
That being said, there were two penalties that I think jumped out at a lot of us. One probably had no bearing on the outcome of the game, while one had a pretty significant outcome.
The one with no real impact was Colin Kaepernick's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for inappropriate language. I went back through the video and the camera angles seemed to prevent us from reading his lips. After the game, Kap said he did not say anything inappropriate, and did not use a slur. He was asked about saying a slur because there was talk in the offseason of penalizing use of the N-word. I can only assume the ref thought Kap was using that word or the slur for homosexuals. If it was for an f-bomb or mf-bomb, I can't imagine he gets this penalty, and I can't think of any other
I doubt we'll ever find out for certain, but I tweeted at the NFL PR folks to see if they can provide some clarification on the penalty.
The other penalty was Anquan Boldin's holding penalty, and that was a slightly bigger deal. It came at the 6:29 mark of the second quarter with the 49ers leading 10-0, and cost the 49ers a 54-yard Frank Gore touchdown run. After the touchdown was called back, Kap scrambled twice, and on the second scramble, Jared Allen forced a fumble. The 49ers would eventually take a 17-0 lead, but who knows how things might have changed if they had gotten that initial Gore touchdown. But as they say, woulda, coulda, shoulda.
After the game, Boldin was not a fan of the call, saying the refs must have seen another 81 on the field. I put together a quick GIF, and you can decide for yourself if holding took place:
Boldin does get an arm around Danny McCray, but would that be a basic block, or actual holding. He does disrupt McCray from getting to Gore, but is it enough to call it holding?
I think plenty of us will say no, but what if this was reversed and it was Brandon Marshall doing that to Antoine Bethea as Matt Forte ran by? If nothing was called, would people be screaming for holding? It is merely a hypothetical, but when I get pissed about something like this, one of the first things I ask myself is, if the roles were reversed, how would I feel about it? I'd probably be pissed, but I also can potentially see why they called the holding penalty.
I would view it as a ticky-tack holding call either way, because there is some kind of holding happening on so many different plays. And the problem with this call last night is that it came in the context of so many ticky-tack penalties.