Robert Scheer/IndyStar-USA TODAY NETWORK

Robert Scheer/IndyStar-USA TODAY NETWORK

49ers searching for answers to ongoing pass interference problems

Oct 24, 2021 at 10:03 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers have a number of issues they'll need to address coming off their 30-18 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, but few of them are more important than their tendency to be called for defensive pass interference.

The 49ers were called for defensive pass interference five times during the loss to the Colts, three of which were accepted, while one was declined and another was nullified due to offsetting penalties. The accepted penalties went for a total of 97 yards, with two of them helping to set up Colts touchdowns and a third setting up a 1st-and-Goal before Colts quarterback Carson Wentz fumbled the ball back to the 49ers.

According to 49ers beat reporter Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, the 49ers now have 13 pass interference penalties in six games for 250 yards. And it doesn't sound like there's a quick fix the 49ers can turn to in order to get things turned around.

"I don't know if there's a clear-cut answer for that," linebacker Fred Warner said Sunday. "Maybe we've just got to rep it more in practice -- get more reps at it so we're more comfortable doing it in a game. But yeah, that's obviously an area we've got to be better at. Carson, that's where all his yards were from was defensive pass interference. So, we've just all got to be better."

At this point in the season, chances are there won't be any new additions or lineup changes the 49ers can make that will help fix the problem. The answer will likely need to come from within.

"You've got the guys that you have in your building," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "Every time a guy messes up, you can change, you can give someone else a shot, but we work pretty hard at that, and so do our guys throughout the week to try to get the best guys out there. Obviously today it did not improve. It's going to be real tough to get guys off the field with those PIs. Stuff isn't going to get better if we can't fix it."

Cornerback Josh Norman says the current nature of the NFL doesn't make things any easier for defensive players when it comes to pass interference, but he still put the blame on the shoulders of himself and the others on defense.

"It's a passing league. Everybody wants to see points," Norman told reporters Sunday. "I think we're kind of at a disadvantage now from that. But at the same time, whether it goes our way or not, we've still got to execute. Those guys get paid just like we do. We still have to be in position to go out there and fight against the opposition. It starts in practice. We've got to rep it."

Warner also said the defense needs to get better at preventing easy touchdowns in any situation, whether it's after pass interference or another type of play.

"The bottom line is it doesn't matter," Warner said. "The mindset whether they get the pass interference or they get an explosive play, you've got to stand up no matter what. We've got to play way better in the red zone. We're letting too many easy walk-in scores happen. We've got to get it fixed and we will. That's got to be a ton better."

Fixing their pass interference dilemma will obviously be a priority for the 49ers in the days ahead after what it cost them against the Colts on Sunday night. Whether it gets fixed or not, opposing teams can be expected to continue to try to put the 49ers defense in a position to commit similar mistakes down the line.

"Now it's starting to be a problem -- don't let it be a problem until it becomes a problem, as coach would say," Norman said. "We see it now, and sometimes teams are just going to heave it up. If they do, we've got to take the mindset of 'That's my ball.'... we've just got to be in position and be better, and we will."

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