The San Francisco 49ers improved to 2-0 after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. But there are two recurring themes: big plays and penalties, and the latter needs to be fixed before Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The 2019 San Francisco 49ers are off to a blazing hot start after a decisive 41-17 road victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. There has been no shortage of big plays on offense, defense and special teams during the first two games of the season.
But if the team wants to extend this win streak through Week 3’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and put the league on notice that they are ready to contend for a spot in the postseason, there’s one area of concern they need to shore up: offensive penalties.
Through the first two weeks, the 49ers have put up 72 points on the board, which is third best in the NFL and the most by a team that hasn’t played the Miami Dolphins.
But this number could be much higher.
During last Sunday’s game in Cincinnati, both guards Laken Tomlinson and Mike Person were flagged for holding on a 29-yard touchdown scamper by running back Raheem Mostert. This marked the fourth touchdown been nullified via penalty on offense this season. In Week 1, tight end George Kittle had two touchdowns called back: one for offensive pass interference on fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and the other for illegal formation on right tackle Mike McGlinchey.
This had to be gut wrenching for his fantasy owners to watch, to say the least.
Per The Football Database, the 49ers have been flagged for 20 penalties (second only to the Cleveland Browns) for a total of 162 yards (fifth most in the NFL). Taking a deeper dive into those numbers, we find 11 of those penalties have come on offense, with seven of them being post snap. Offensive penalties, regardless of their nature, set the team behind the sticks and usually end up causing drives to stall, killing momentum.
And in five instances this season, taking points off the board.
The 49ers offense has been clicking on cylinders so far this season. But head coach Kyle Shanahan is aware the penalties need to be cleaned up. In years past, this team has shot itself in the foot with penalties and was unable to recover.
So far this year, that hasn’t been the case.
As many pundits start to discuss which surprise teams are contenders or pretenders, and who they’ve played against, one thing is for certain: Shanahan’s offense is legit. This is evidenced by the intricate play design which puts his weapons in position to make big plays.
But as the schedule gets tougher, even with the 0-2 Steelers up next, the Niners will not be able to continue committing costly penalties against the likes of the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens.
Sound off in the comment section below with any other areas of the team you believe need to improve in order for the 49ers to have continued success this season.