49ers should read this item without delay

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
5:00
PM ET
Seth from Pennsylvania asked during the most recent chat whether the San Francisco 49ers were committing an inordinate number of penalties for delay.


"Why does it seem like Alex Smith has such a hard time with the play clock?" he asked. "This is a trend that I've noticed ever since he's been a starter through three different head coaches, so I don't think it's coaches getting him the play too late. I'd be interested to see stats on how many delay of game penalties he gets, and how many timeouts are wasted on play clock issues."

What I said during the chat: The Jimmy Raye system was a digit system featuring more terminology for each play. That system required more time for relaying the call and more time for making it in the huddle. You will typically see digit-based offenses suffering from delay penalties more frequently. That is why Philip Rivers and the Chargers have had so many of them. The 49ers do lead the NFL in delay penalties since the 2009 season.

Following up: Raye was the 49ers' coordinator under former coach Mike Singletary. The 49ers are tied with Seattle for most delay penalties this season. The Seahawks have cut down on those penalties recently. The 49ers have suffered a recent spike.

Smith entered the NFL in 2005. His 28 career penalties for delay are the third-highest total since 2005. He ranks second only to Carson Palmer if we eliminate from consideration the 2008 season, which Smith missed entirely (Palmer missed all but four games that year).

Those cumulative stats "favor" quarterbacks with staying power. All the players listed have been starters regularly since 2005. Others might have committed more penalties per game. Also, quarterbacks aren't solely to blame for all delay penalties.

The fact that Smith ranks so high on the list does make this a legitimate subject to pursue, however.

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