Let me preface this by saying that I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan through and through but what I’m about to cover needs to be said.
I thought last year was the year that the NFL had replacement officials? I might be wrong, considering what happened in San Francisco on Sunday.
How in the world can these NFL officials not know the rules? And if they don’t, why isn’t there somebody in the lead refs ear making sure they are getting calls correct?
Granted, the majority of fans probably had no idea a mistake was made until Fox and Mike Pereira pointed it out, but that’s beside the point.
If you’re not sure what I’m referring to here is what happened. During the 49ers vs. Packers game yesterday, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick was scrambling on a third down play and came up just shy of the first down marker before he stepped out-of-bounds. By the time he was leaving the field Clay Matthews was already in mid-flight. By the time contact was made, Kaepernick was two steps out-of-bounds. A Flag flew almost instantly but the 49ers players still reacted. Offensive lineman Joe Staley got right in Matthews’ face and a huge scrum ensued. Staley got called for a personal foul along with Matthews, before the officials could restore order. Since the personal fouls were off setting the officials replayed third down. On the ensuing play Kaepernick found Anquan Boldin over the middle for a 49ers touchdown.
What the refs apparently didn’t realize was that because the penalties were dead ball fouls that the play should have stood, making it fourth down. If the play had been called correctly the 49ers would have undoubtedly kicked a field goal instead of going for it on fourth down.
Since the play happened in the second quarter, there is no way to tell if it affected the outcome of the game but we shouldn’t have to speculate. These mistakes aren’t at all acceptable even though it did favor my team.
I can’t imagine how Green Bay fans feel at this point, considering this is the second year in a row a huge missed call has drastically changed a game for their beloved Packers.
Since the NFL can’t go back and make any changes now, here’s what they need to do going forward. It’s time to follow the lead that the NHL has set when it comes to important plays. Every time the lamp gets lit, the play is reviewed at a separate location to make sure the goal should count. The NFL needs to adopt a similar kind of system. If there is a blatant mistake made on the field by the officials, someone in the league office needs to correct it, and fast. How tough would it be to provide the head official with an ear piece so that this type of contact can be made immediately?
That way something like this won’t slip through the cracks and change the complexion of an otherwise great game.
The NFL is big business and can definitely afford a few extra bucks to make sure the product on the field is where it needs to be for both players, officials and fans.