We’ll be dissecting the San Francisco 49ers preseason loss on Saturday to the Houston Texans, but one of the things that comes to mind immediately is how utterly sloppy the game was. The 49ers were penalized 15 times for 140 yards.
Yes, 15 times, 140 yards. Almost a field and a half. Ya think that’s enough? Almost makes you want to pass around a rule book. Especially when the Texans get eight for 68 yards.
First, let’s omit some dumb ones. The 49ers got flagged with the NFL’s new helmet rule going around the league. Both Raheem Mostert and Jeremiah Attaochu got slapped with it Saturday. So there’s 30 yards that probably shouldn’t have happened. Take those out and you have 13 penalties for 110 yards. That’s still over the length of a field, and still atrocious.
And the 49ers were committing everything. False start, illegal formation, and yes, even the ol’ forward lateral. It was quite an impressive resume of laundry.
Some of these are just part of the game. You rarely get through a game without getting jumpy on the line or hit with a holding call. Accidents happen. Some of these could get filed under intimidation tactics—maybe a higher purpose is served jumping across the line early and making sure the other side of the ball knows you’re around.
But there’s no higher purpose being served getting flagged for holding, then telling the referee something you shouldn’t to get a second flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. I’m talking about what killed a brilliant second drive by the offense. Center Weston Richburg was called for holding on 1st and 10. Given how the offense was clicking, 1st and 20 seemed manageable. But once Richburg spoke to the official, a second flag for 15 yards came diving down. 1st and 35 is barely manageable, even for Jimmy Garoppolo and it led to an interception.
So what happens? Well the team is going to need to work on their discipline because these things can kill games real quick. Part of the reason the 49ers managed to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017 was due to the Jaguars channeling their inner bonehead and racking up yardages in unsportsmanlike penalties. At that point, the 49ers could have relaxed a bit—it was getting that predictable.
Hopefully they can clean these things up because the 49ers schedule is hard enough as it is. They don’t need to make it harder with self inflicted wounds and saying the wrong thing to the officials.