San Francisco 49ers

No free plays: 49ers wary of opportunistic Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Green Bay, Wis..
Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Green Bay, Wis.. AP

SANTA CLARA -- Who says nothing in life is free? Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 162 yards and two touchdowns this season on so-called free plays -- snaps when he's caught the defense offsides or with too many men on the field.

And it's not a recent phenomenon.

"When you see something like that that occurs over and over and over, over years -- the guy has a knack for feeling emotion and feeling where the game's at and doing it at times that makes it harder on you," Jim Tomsula said Friday.

The key, Tomsula said, is to keep playing even when the referees have thrown a penalty flag. That's a rule the 49ers didn't follow Sunday in Arizona when defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie jumped offsides.

The 49ers figured the play would be blown dead because Jerod-Eddie made contact with an offensive lineman and relaxed. The Cardinals, however, did not, and running back Chris Johnson took a handoff, darted to his right and picked up 15 yards.

Arizona naturally declined the penalty. The 49ers have been flagged for defensive offsides three times in three games.

"For us, eliminating self-inflicted wounds, that’s always going to be priority No. 1, whether it’s cadence, whether it’s missed tackles or any of those things that are under our control," defensive coordinator Eric Mangini said. "That’s a starting point.”

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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