The only thing faster than a Colin Kaepernick slant pass is his answer to a reporter's question. When asked what he learned from the Rams loss, Kaepernick responded:
"Can’t make mistakes. That’s the biggest thing."
Much of the attention for what went wrong for the 49ers in that game is focused on the pitch out that went horribly awry. Head coach Jim Harbaugh called it a "loser of a call" and the execution wasn't much better. But the mistakes in that game do not just belong to Kaepernick, and they're not unique to the team's trip to St. Louis. The 49ers' penalty problems surfaced in New Orleans the week before. San Francisco has racked up 21 penalties for 165 yards over the last two games.
"We’re looking at it," Harbaugh said. "Definitely, there have been some big ones that have stopped drives or extended drives for the other team. That’s not the 49er way of playing football."
Offensively, eight of the 49ers 21 holding calls this season have come over the last two games as well.
"We just have to do a better job with our techniques." said left tackle Joe Staley. "You see some of the holding penalties, there is a technique flaw here or there. Sometimes those penalties happen. You get caught in an awkward situation, you don’t really know where a play’s going or it’s designed to go one way and it goes another way. But as far as getting your hands in the right place or running your feet It’s all correctible."
There were mumblings in the locker room that the refs were tight in their calls in St. Louis. Maybe so. But only three teams have been flagged more than San Francisco this season. St. Louis, Washington and Dallas all have 97 penalties on the year while the 49ers and Ravens each have 88. San Francisco's 744 total penalty yards are the seventh most in the league.
The 49ers' current penalty outbreak comes at a time when the team is looking to build momentum toward a playoff push. If the 49ers don't correct the problem, as Staley suggests they can, the 49ers could could very well place their postseason plans in the hands of the officials.