A bad loss to the Colts that was arguably the worst loss of the Kyle Shanahan era has the 49ers in a tailspin. They’ve lost four in a row and there doesn’t appear to be an easy fix in sight. Nevertheless, they moved up in the USA TODAY NFL power rankings for the first time all year. A couple other bad losses and teams in tailspins helped buoy the 49ers to No. 18, up two spots from the No. 20 rank they resided at the last two weeks.
Two of the teams that dropped below them were their Week 8 opponent, the Chicago Bears after they were beaten 30-3 by the Buccaneers in a game that wasn’t even as close as the final score. The Seahawks also sank underneath San Francisco following their Monday night home loss to the Saints.
An interesting note for the 49ers comes in the explanation for their ranking. USA TODAY’s Nate Davis offers one stat San Francisco can fix to change their fortunes:
Their bevy of pass interference penalties Sunday night is indicative of carelessness, San Francisco pacing NFL with 81 penalty yards per game.
Pass interference penalties by the 49ers were the Colts’ biggest source of offensive output Sunday night, and they’ve been an issue all year for San Francisco’s nicked-up secondary.
While cutting down on the pass interference flags would certainly help the 49ers’ defense, part of the problem is their talent level at cornerback lends itself to handsy DBs who draw penalties when they’re challenged on deep throws.
Simple fixes aren’t going to be easy to come by as the 49ers look for solution to their current skid, but cutting down on undisciplined penalties is certainly one of them. If they do that, beat Chicago, and then put away the Cardinals in Week 9, they could rise up the rankings on their own instead of needing other teams to crater and push them up by default.