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“It’s Very Hard to Win That Way.” The 49ers Need to Quickly Clean Up an 18-Penalty Evening

Bret Rumbeck
Aug 10, 2019 at 10:36 PM


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Sitting 28 players for the first preseason game is a bit shocking, but finishing the game with 18-penalties for 216 yards and squeaking out a victory is something of a football unicorn.

When asked about the penalties after the game, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said, "Anytime you have a game where you have 18 penalties, and the other team has five, you should look at it hard, and it's very hard to win that way."

He went on to note he and the coaching staff would review the tape to see if any were penalties the team could control.

I expect to see flags for illegal shifts or twelve-men in the huddle throughout the preseason. But the 49ers' ugly evening evolved from silly mistakes to pointless flags throughout the game.

Left tackle Willie Beavers had three holding penalties, including two back-to-back with just under four minutes left in the second quarter.

My favorite holding call of the evening was early in the fourth quarter. Undrafted free agent Ross Reynolds and Beavers were both flagged for holding. Somehow, even with two linemen cheating, running back Brandon Wilds did not gain a yard on the play.

Defensive back Adrian Colbert was ejected from the game with 3:49 left in the third quarter. He leveled Dallas wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who was running a quick slant route.

Shanahan commented on Colbert's hit and subsequent ejection following the game.

"We just gotta learn from it," said Shanahan. "I saw it live and it did seem like his helmet hit his chest and he led with his helmet, which is a penalty. It's unfortunate he got ejected. I know his intent - it's a bang-bang play, and he's playing fast and trying to stop them on third down. By no means is he trying to do that. But it's tough to run that fast and tackle people and keep your head back.

"We gotta learn from it, we gotta coach it, but it was tough for him to get ejected there."

If you're able, I'd suggest going back to the tape and watching the play. Colbert had no reason to level Wilson, and especially in a pointless preseason game. He wasn't trying to tackle Wilson; Colbert was trying to make a statement.

I'd be okay with that hit in the regular season, but it's uncalled for in a meaningless preseason game. Further, Colbert is a veteran who is going to make the final roster. He has to show restraint in a situation like that.

Oddly, the 49ers committed 15 penalties for 140 yards in a Week 2 preseason game against the Houston Texans last year. The 49ers followed up that performance with another ten penalties the following week.

Maybe these errors are due to first game nervousness, or excitement to play against a live opponent.

We saw what happened last year when the 49ers' defense was missing tackles early in the season. The time is now for the 49ers' coaching staff to correct mental errors and incorrect physical technique before both bleed into the regular season.

All statistics courtesy of NFL.com.
  • Bret Rumbeck
  • Written by:
    Bret Rumbeck has been writing about the 49ers since 2017 for 49ers Webzone and 49ers Hub. He is a Turlock, CA native, and has worked for two members of the US House of Representatives and one US Senator. When not breaking down game film, Bret spends his time seeking out various forms of heavy metal. Feel free to follow him or direct inquiries to @brumbeck.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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