The San Francisco 49ers beat the Chicago Bears this past Sunday in a game that was a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, the 49ers thoroughly dominated time of possession, surpassing their season high in the third quarter. On the other hand, they gave up a pair of touchdowns to the Bears and came away with zero touchdowns in five red zone trips. You could look at different parts of the box score and think they either blew out Chicago or got blown out.
The biggest problem on Sunday was penalties in the red zone. The 49ers did not secure a touchdown in the red zone in large part because of penalties. Chris Biderman put together a detailed breakdown of the four red zone trips prior to the game-winning field goals. The fifth trip was when they intentionally settled for the final field goal. According to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner, the 49ers 13 accepted offensive penalties committed in the red zone lead the NFL, as do the 15 total penalties called in the red zone.
One thing we’ll be watching these final four games is how the offense comes together with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm. Week 13 was the first extended run for them, and as long as everybody stays relatively healthy, they will get more time together to gel.
Will it be enough to overcome the penalty issues that have been a problem all season long? Given the roster turnover and injuries, it is not surprising issues of on-field discipline arise. I don’t expect things to be anywhere near perfect by the end of the season, but it would certainly be nice to see some improvement. Is this something we’ll mostly have to wait another offseason for, once Jimmy Garoppolo gets a full offseason workout program in?