San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle would have had quite the box score if it wasn’t for two penalties on Sunday afternoon. Kittle scored two touchdowns against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they were wiped because of penalties. The first score was called back on a ticky-tack offensive pass interference call on the do-it-all Kyle Juszczyk, who happened to be lined up at tight end on the play. The referee probably should have let that one go. To make matters worse, Kittle likely reaches the end zone if “Juice” didn’t commit pass interference on the play.
OPI is generally called when it’s blatant. For example, a wide receiver goes up for a pass and shoves the defender out of the way. Or if a receiver lowers his shoulder on a screen giving the referee no choice to flag them. If it bothers me this much, imagine how the offense feels about it.
The second touchdown that was called back was a mental mistake. Mike McGlinchey wasn’t on the line, and the 49ers were flagged for an illegal formation. This was a “wow” play from Kittle that we would have seen on the highlights all week. Kittle caught a quick pass over the middle, and it was him and a safety. The safety tried to go low, and Kittle ran him over and waltzed into the end zone. All for nothing.
Kittle joked with the Sacramento Bee’s Chris Biderman that his teammates were playing against him in fantasy:
Kittle also talked about how seeing the defense make plays “gets you fired up.” You would know better than me, but it’s safe to say the offense never took the field with the type of consistent momentum and field position that they had against Tampa Bay.
Kittle was also frustrated about the penalties, and how the offense continually played behind the chains. Penalties on first down limit your options, traditionally, by putting you in second and third-and-long situations. The money quote was:
“Well, on that I’m pretty sure (Juszczyk) Juice and McGlinchey are playing against me in fantasy football,” the third-year tight end joked. “So I’m pretty sure that’s what that was. That’s not my fault.”
Not so fast, says Juszczyk:
Mother Buckners? Good luck topping that fantasy football name.
Two touchdowns by the defense makes it easier to swallow that the offense had two scored negated by a penalty. The 49ers are talented, but not talented enough to count on overcoming the mistakes that take points off the scoreboard. They’ll clean it up. They have to.