The 49ers committed five pass interference penalties in Sunday night's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, continuing what has been an alarming trend for the team's secondary in 2021.
San Francisco leads the NFL with 11 defensive PI calls against them this season. Worse yet, the next three teams below the 49ers have played one more game so far due to SF's early Week 6 bye. The 49ers have been called for 14 total, but three have been declined or were offsetting.
“We're not doing good enough. It's been a struggle all year," Shanahan said of the numerous pass interference penalties Sunday night. "Today was the worst. It's always harder getting your footing out there and stuff, but it is for them also. Until the end, until they started making some of those, we gave them way too many explosive freebies, especially the two touchdown drives in the first half."
Josh Norman, Emmanuel Moseley and rookie Deommodore Lenoir, who was not even active for Sunday night's game, are the 49ers' leaders in PI penalties this season with two apiece.
Norman spoke to the media after Sunday's game, and acknowledged the mistakes but pointed out how difficult the league has made playing defensive back in recent years.
“Like I said, it's a passing league. So everybody wants to see points," Norman said. "I think we are kind of at a disadvantage from that now. But at the same time, whether it goes our way or not, we still have to execute. Those guys get paid just like we do. We still have to be in position to go out there and fight against the opposition."
The 49ers' defense overall has been above league average in passing yards allowed and touchdowns surrendered, but forcing turnovers has been a recurring issue for defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans' group.
Just one interception has been recorded by a 49er this season, and that came in Week 1 with Dre Greenlaw's pick-six against the Detroit Lions. The 49ers rank 30th overall in the NFL with just four takeaways so far this season. For reference, the 49ers had two separate games with four takeaways over the first six games of the 2019 season.
The sloppy conditions in Santa Clara on Sunday night exacerbated the struggles the 49ers had defensively. If this becomes a trend, however, the 49ers will have a hard time stopping any opposing offense going forward as they look to climb out of the bottom of the NFC West standings.