The 49ers are a team with little margin for error, and consecutive holding penalties near the end of the third quarter proved to be huge mistakes in their 23-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The second of those penalties, a flag against center Daniel Kilgore, appeared to be blown call by referee Brad Allen. The costly penalty accounted for a 29-yard swing at a critical stage of the game.
“It’s disheartening because that was a significant time in that drive,” Kilgore said. “That penalty killed us. It’s going to be disheartening to go back and see whether that was a good or bad call.”
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick scrambled for 19 yards one play after tight end Garrett Celek was called for holding to set up a second-and-20 play. But instead of a third-and-1 situation from the Arizona 19, Kilgore’s penalty pushed the 49ers back to a third-and-30 from the 48-yard line.
When the replay was shown in the press box, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke loudly expressed his displeasure with the call. Kilgore was engaged with Cardinals defensive tackle Rodney Gunter and appeared to let go as Kaepernick broke from the pocket.
“From my understanding, when the quarterback leaves the pocket, you’re supposed to let go, and I felt like I did,” Kilgore said. “I didn’t bring the defender down to the ground or tug him back. I don’t know whether it was good or bad call.”
Replays appear to support Kilgore's claim. Gunter, who appeared to be out of the play anyway, did not appear to be illegally obstructed as Kaepernick began to run.
The penalty pushed the 49ers out of field-goal range in a seven-point game. The 49ers eventually tied the game with 1:55 remaining on Kaepernick’s 4-yard touchdown run. But the Cardinals won the game on Chandler Catanzaro’s 34-yard field goal as time expired.