Jay Drowns/Getty Images
Jim Harbaugh making a point with the officials
While turnovers are perhaps the principal means by which NFL teams beat themselves, there are many other methods as well, penalties among them. In this regard, the 49ers have not compiled a sterling record, as they commit an average of 6.8 penalties per game, ranking them 25th in the NFL.
While that doesn't come close to the level of misconduct achieved by the miscreant Oakland Raiders—an astounding 10.2 penalties per game, last in the league—it isn't exactly what the coaches want to see, and that at times has stifled promising offensive drives.
There is some reason for optimism, however, particularly in the context of the upcoming conference championship game against the New York Giants. For one thing, over the last three games, the 49ers have committed fewer penalties, averaging 4.7 per game, 12th in the NFL.
Moreover, while the 49ers have been positively felonious on the road, committing an average of 8.0 penalties a game—30th in the league—they have committed an average of only 5.8 penalties per game at home, good for 15th in the league. Not great, but better.
If the 49ers can continue recent trends and also continue to minimize their penalties at home, that will be still one more tangible benefit of the home-field advantage they will enjoy against the Giants.