October 31 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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With only three penalties assessed against the 49ers - one before the ball was ever kicked, itís clear that this team has begun to improve its focus. Penalties can kill a team, giving the opposition key first downs, or in preventing an offense from moving the ball. But avoiding them for a few weeks does not guarantee that they wonít sneak back with a vengeance.
In a similar way to how the 49ers were turnover free for so long before committing two costly mistakes in the fourth quarter against the Saints, penalties can come back to haunt the team even after a long run of controlling them. The key to minimizing penalties is to reduce the illegal actions before the ball is snapped and after the whistle is blown. Penalties throughout the course of a game, during the action packed sequence are bound to happen, but the penalties while the ball is not in play are uncalled for.
The coaches have done a good job of retaining the teamís focus with regards to not committing penalties. Itís important that throughout the weekly practice that the coaching staff continues to harp on these issues. Ultimately it is pressing the importance of not beating themselves that makes a difference come game time, and so, just because the team performed well in this area over the past two games, is no reason to let up on this area in practice.