Based on listening to callers on KNBR on Monday and various bits of input I’ve gathered on Twitter, a lot of griping from 49ers fans since the Super Bowl ended has been directed largely at the officiating crew, which of course is the universal mating call for homers everywhere, regardless of team.
And why wouldn’t they be doing that? Even their fearless leader Jim Harbaugh took aim at the officiating after the game:
Safe to say Jim Harbaugh is angry at the officiating. Brought it up in every answer.
— Seth Wickersham (@SethWickersham) February 4, 2013
The prime play being used as Exhibit A? The defensive PI/defense holding “no call” at the end of the game between Michael Crabtree and Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith.
But that couldn’t be further from the wrong attitude to have post-Super Bowl. So, take your 49ers goggles off for just a minute and join me as I try to sort through this whole “blown call” nonsense.
It comes down to this: There was contact both ways.
Crabtree initiated the contact, and he was engaged with Smith just like Smith was with him. And as Phil Simms said live on the CBS broadcast, the no call in that situation is justifiable.
Both players were guilty of infractions on the play. Smith held Crabtree’s jersey, while Crabtree pushed off. But nothing was egregious to the point where the official on top of the play had no other choice but to throw a flag.
With the time of the game and with so much on the line, any reasonable, rational-thinking individual can live with the referee “letting them play.” Nobody objectively watching wants the refs to decide a game with so much significance. Remember the ending of Ohio State-Miami in 2002?
Besides, if nits are to be picked with the officials, the supposed holding by Smith wasn’t even the worst “missed call” of the game. That happened when Isaac Sopoaga destroyed Joe Flacco out of bounds after a pass when it was 3rd and goal from the one with 12:58 left in the game. If the refs flag that play, then the Ravens have 1st and goal from inside the one and up to four chances to go up 12 and change the entire game. Instead, they settled for a field goal to lead by only eight points, leaving it still a one-possession game.
But nobody is talking about that because it didn’t happen in the final critical moments to decide the ball game.
And yet, when it comes down to it, so much else matters more in a game than just one play, cliche as that is to say. Whining 49ers fans and Jim Harbaugh seemed to lose sight of that in their warped, homer-ific perspectives. Lest any of them recognize there being over 120 other plays from scrimmage.
The Niners lost that game at least 10 other ways before you can blame the zebras. You can start by looking at how they had three other chances at the end zone within seven yards before any “missed call” took place.
[GIF via SB Nation]