The San Francisco 49ers started the 2013 season where they left off in 2012: racking up large numbers of penalties. Last season, the 49ers had the seventh most offensive penalties in the NFL: 109 penalties for 960 yards. In week one’s impressive victory over the Green Bay Packers, the 49ers incurred 13 penalties for 85 yards, making them the second most penalized team in the NFL, behind only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 49ers clearly have a penalty problem.
The 49ers’ penalties against the Packers included three penalties on cornerback Tramaine Brock; one false start, one for unnecessary roughness, and one for holding which was declined. Center Jonathan Goodwin had two false start penalties. Tackle Joe Staley had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (which was offset by Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews’ penalty for his late hit on Colin Kaepernick) and a false start. Linebacker Aldon Smith incurred a penalty for a neutral zone infraction as well as a penalty for defensive offside. Adam Snyder, Kaepernick, Ahmad Brooks, and NaVorro Bowman each had one penalty. Snyder was penalized for illegal formation, Kaepernick for delay of game, Brooks for roughing the passer, and Bowman for unsportsmanlike conduct. In response, the NFL fined Brooks $12,750 and also fined wide receiver Anquan Boldin $7,875 for his late hit of Packers’ defensive end Jarrett Bush.
In 2012, the majority of the 49ers’ penalties were offensive. But in the opening game of the 2013 season, more than half of the team’s penalties were on defensive players. For a defense that ranked 3rd overall in the NFL last year, this is not a good way to start 2013. How will head coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio handle this problem heading into the epic showdown against the Seattle Seahawks? If there is one game on the 49ers’ schedule that especially requires discipline, it is tonight’s game in Seattle. This game will require an extreme level of discipline on the part of the 49ers in order to prevent penalties from taking over the game.
Sara DeBord is an NFL writer for www.footballandfutbol.com and www.baysportsreport.com.
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