Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Postgame Notebook: Lamenting penalties; Why third-round picks were inactive; Messy weather a factor?

Sep 11, 2022 at 5:34 PM--

There were a number of topics addressed by the San Francisco 49ers after Sunday's 19-10 loss to the Chicago Bears, but nothing dominated the discussion more than the amount of costly penalties the team committed during the game.

The 49ers were flagged 12 times for 99 yards in the game, while the Bears committed just three penalties for 27 yards. The penalties often came at costly times for the 49ers and helped keep drives alive for the Bears, who were able to use those mistakes in their favor in their second half rally from a 10-0 deficit.

"It's tough to win when you do that stuff," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game. "We always talk about do it right longer, and I think today was the exact opposite of that."

We have some comments from the 49ers on their penalties, as well as some words on a few other topics, including why two third-round picks didn't play on Sunday and how tough it was to play in the sloppy Chicago weather. Check it out in this version of 49ers Notebook.

Gotta clean it up

There was nothing mysterious to the 49ers about why they lost a game they were well on their way towards winning. It had to do largely with penalties, even though they prepared themselves for that possibility.

The 49ers knew there was an extra chance for penalties on Sunday due to the tendency of Bears quarterback Justin Fields to get outside the pocket and run for yardage. Despite that, they were flagged twice for hits on Fields and committed a number of other costly infractions, most notably a third-down face mask call on linebacker Dre Greenlaw that led to a game-changing touchdown for the Bears in the third quarter.

"It was a big emphasis all week," Shanahan said. "We felt pretty good about some of the matchups and stuff, especially with our D, and we knew that was going to be a big deal, especially when you have a quarterback who's hard to bring down and the element of how hard you've got to run to get to him. We were very well aware we were going to have to avoid him when we slid and didn't do a good enough job of that. But I think the worst one was the unnecessary face mask, which I couldn't see, when we stopped the back in the backfield."

Defensive end Nick Bosa said penalties were the main factor that helped the Bears rally in the second half. Bosa said the Bears didn't do anything different in the second half that led them to the comeback and suggested the 49ers did their part in helping the Bears find a spark on offense.

"15 yards for a team that can't move the ball, it's huge. Yeah, we've got to be smarter," Bosa said.

Offensive tackle Trent Williams said what happened to the 49ers on Sunday is what usually happens when a team has the lopsided amount of penalties the 49ers had against the Bears.

"It's hard enough to play against the opposing team," Williams said. "It's even harder when you play against yourself. I've been playing football a long time. Any game that I can remember where we had close to 100 yards in penalties and we had two turnovers, especially one in scoring range in the red zone, it generally never turns out that well."

The 49ers are a team that knows how to rally from adversity, so they won't let Sunday's loss create a hangover that lasts into next week. Still, Sunday's loss will sting for a bit considering the fact they were the better team on paper and looked like the superior team for over two quarters.

"I'm not going to make anything different of this," Shanahan said. "I know it's the first game. We really wanted to win this. I felt, not to take anything away from them, but I'm disappointed about some of the silly mistakes that we did to ourselves. That's not just young guys. That's veterans out there that have done a lot of good things for us. So it's our whole team that needs to clean stuff up to have a chance to do what we want to do."

No Davis-Price, no Gray

The 49ers' two 2022 third-round draft picks, running back Tyrion Davis-Price and wide receiver Danny Gray will have to wait a little longer to make their NFL debut after Shanahan decided to leave them inactive on Sunday.

The 49ers dressed undrafted rookie Jordan Mason instead of Davis-Price, making him the day's No. 3 back behind Elijah Mitchell and Jeff Wilson. Shanahan pointed at special teams as the reason why Mason got the nod.

"When it came down to our third back it was about who we wanted on special teams more," Shanahan said. "Mason did a better job throughout the week."

The same thing was the case at wide receiver, where Malik Turner got the nod as the fifth receiver over Gray. Others on the inactive list included tight end George Kittle and offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill due to injury as well as defensive lineman Jordan Willis and two other rookies in offensive lineman Nick Zakelj and quarterback Brock Purdy.

Wet n' wild

Sunday's weather wasn't the worst the 49ers have seen in recent memory at Soldier Field -- that dubious distinction goes to the disastrous 26-6 loss in 2016 that was played in the snow during which the 49ers got penalized at one point for making snow angels. But it was still noticeably bad, particularly in the fourth quarter when the skies opened up and a downpour came that slowed the offense to a crawl.

How much of a difference did it make? Here's a sampling of what the 49ers said after the game.

-Fullback Kyle Juszczyk: "I hate to make excuses but it's hard to throw the ball when you're running around in puddles. And hard to catch the ball."

-Wide receiver/running back Deebo Samuel: "It was coming down a bit when we first started warming up, then it kind of went away. But I feel like once we got the ball back after the turnover we had, the ball was heavy. It was hard for Trey (Lance) to throw it. It was hard to catch it."

-Defensive end Nick Bosa, who said the newly-installed turf at Soldier Field was better than what the team played on in 2021: "It was better than last year, honestly. But it's never too good when it's raining that hard. You can't really do much pass rush-wise. It was better grass though."

There's no doubt the 49ers could have and should have had the game won before the rains came in the fourth. But the weather also probably helped the Bears more than the 49ers when they were trying to rally late.

Burford's debut

One rookie who played a significant role in Sunday's game, as expected, was fourth-round pick Spencer Burford, who lined up at guard after earning a starting role in the preseason. Burford was hesitant to discuss his debut without looking at game film first.

"I really can't get a feel for it," Burford said. "I'll really dive into the film and then I'll have an answer for you. I don't want to go into it too deep right now because we're in the heat of the moment right now. Somebody did something that affected your game so you really want to lock in on that."

But Burford did admit his NFL debut was a special moment. The fact he was now playing on Sundays sank in before the game, and he took some time to appreciate it.

"I'm not going to lie -- I got a little emotional before I went out there, just assessing everything that was going on, being in the moment," Burford said. "Don't take anything for granted. It was a blessing to be out there playing with those guys."
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