The 49ers were penalized nine times for 107 yards in their loss Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals.
Those who came to the conclusion that the 49ers showed a lack of discipline can point to two plays in particular.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin was called for unnecessary roughness after head-butting second-year cornerback Tony Jefferson. And cornerback Chris Culliver was flagged for taunting after getting into the face of running back Andre Ellington after a fourth-quarter tackle out of bounds.
Coach Jim Harbaugh went up to Boldin on the sideline after his penalty, and Boldin gave an animated description of how he had continually baited throughout the game.
“He asked me a question, and I answered the question,” Boldin said afterward. “It was after my personal foul, and he said, ‘Could you come to me or come to the ref?’ And I said, ‘Coach, I’ve gone to the ref on three different occasions. That’s not helping at all.’ ”
Discipline is something that must be engrained in a team from the first day of training camp. And that was definitely an area Harbaugh memorably addressed during that time.
In fact, Boldin and Culliver were targets of Harbaugh’s two most-notable acts of discipline on the practice field during camp.
On Friday, Aug. 1, Boldin took exception to 49ers cornerback Darryl Morris' style of play while defending a pass play and took a swipe. Harbaugh immediately concluded Boldin was to blame. Harbaugh immediately ordered an irate Boldin off the field and banished him to the locker room.
[REWIND: Harbaugh kicks Boldin out]
Two days later, Culliver leveled receiver David Reed at the sideline after a short completion. The hard hit ran contrary to the spirit of the 49ers’ practices, during which the team is instructed to protect each other.
[REWIND: Harbaugh boots Culliver]
Harbaugh stopped practice and warned against any cheapshots and reminded everyone to keep their teammates from hitting the ground. He removed Culliver from the field but allowed him to watch the remainder of practice. Harbaugh and Culliver spoke privately about the incident at the end of practice as they left the field together.
Boldin and Culliver did not keep their cool during Sunday’s game. But it’s not as if Harbaugh did not try to curb that behavior in training camp.