The San Francisco 49ers have not gotten off to the start that many expected them to. After a dominating week one performance in a victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the Niners have now lost two straight games to the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals. One theme that has been prevalent in both losses is crucial penalties on the 49ers, some of which have been questionable calls at best. Niners WR Anquan Boldin was responsible for one of those costly penalties when he headbutted a Cardinals player, costing the 49ers 15 yards on a drive in which they had a field goal attempt blocked.
Boldin took responsibility for his penalty, but was still extremely unhappy about the amount of calls going against his team. Following the team’s 23-14 loss to the Cardinals, he voiced his frustrations, via ESPN on Sept. 21:
“For me, it’s been obvious the last two weeks: The amount of calls that have gone against us and the amount of calls that we’ve gotten hasn’t been close […] Every week, it’s the same thing — send the tape in, the NFL just reports back, ‘We made a mistake.’ But at the same time, the crap cost us another game. At some point, they need to be held accountable.”
Boldin’s frustration is somewhat understandable. During a crucial Cardinal’s drive San Francisco was called for unnecessary roughness and a roughing the passer penalty on consecutive plays involving hits on QB Drew Stanton. Those calls helped the Cardinals go 66 yards to take a 20-14 lead that they would never relinquish.
Playing in arguably the toughest division in all of football, the Niners will continue to struggle if they continue to rack up the penalty yardage. But Pro Football Talk believes some of these issues lie with the Niners themselves:
“On some calls, like the one on linebacker Patrick Willis for an unambiguously clean hit on Drew Stanton, Boldin is absolutely right about the officials making blunders that need to be corrected on the field and not during the week. On others, though, the 49ers have only themselves to blame. Whether it was Boldin’s head butt or Chris Culliver’s taunting wiping out a Cardinals holding penalty, the 49ers’ inability to keep their emotions under wraps was their fault alone.”
San Francisco was flagged nine times for 107 yards, while the Cardinals were penalized only 36 yards on five flags. Last week San Francisco was flagged 16 times for 118 yards while the Bears were only flagged 10 times for 58 yards.
The season is young, and the 49ers can still turn things around, but these calls going against them are not making it easier.