San Francisco

Niners Will Need to Clean Up Penalty Problem

San Francisco won't win many more games if it continues opening-game trend of penalties and wiped-out touchdowns

The 49ers are off to a good start with their 31-17 victory over the Buccaneers Sunday in Tampa, Fla.

And, with the victory were some equally optimistic indications for many more wins in 2019. The pass rush was better, Jimmy Garoppolo made plays when needed and the Niners defense created turnovers – something missing a year ago.

But if the 49ers hope to win this coming Sunday against the Bengals – and throughout 2019 – they’ll need to clean up their penalties.

Against the Bucs, San Francisco was penalized 11 times for 87 yards and had three – three! – touchdowns called back because of penalties.

Perhaps the officiating crew for the game was a bit too flag-happy. The Bucs also had two TDs wiped out by penalty and were penalized eight times. Maybe this is just an outlier.

But there’s no question the 49ers face one of the league’s toughest schedules and will need to operate as efficiently as possible to succeed in the NFC West.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan was pleased with the way his team battled and produced a season-opening win, but knows it can’t succeed if it continues to draw flags.

"We didn’t play our best ball today, but the guys played very hard," Shanahan told reporters after the game. "When you’ve got 21 points called back from penalties. We gave them a number of free first downs off penalties and just a lot of self-inflicted wounds and we weren’t proud of.

"The guys still battled and to fight and come up with that win shows how hard the guys fought. Especially in this heat and stuff. I know guys were struggling. … The guys kept fighting through."

But, the 49ers will need to focus on playing cleaner football this week in practice, or they may not be as fortunate in Game 2.

The 1-0 49ers are set to take on the 0-1 Bengals Sunday in Cincinnati at 10 a.m.

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