The San Francisco 49ers trailed for much of the night in Super Bowl 47. However, facing a 4th down and goal at the five-yard line, the Niners had a chance to take the lead, maybe even for good. San Fran threw a fade route to the corner of the end zone intended for wide receiver Michael Crabtree. There was contact from both Crabtree and Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith. When the ball landed incomplete, the 49ers were begging for a flag to be thrown for either defensive holding or defensive pass interference but there was none and the Niners Super Bowl dreams came to an end. Mike Pereira was the NFL’s Vice President of Officiating from 2004-2009 and he believes the stripes made the right call.
Mike Pereira joined KNBR San Francisco with Gary and Larry to talk about whether he thinks pass interference should have been called on the 4th and goal pass to Michael Crabtree, if part of the decision to throw a flag during a play like that comes down to whether the ball was catchable, if he thinks when a foul occurs during a game should matter, how he thinks the officiating crew did overall and how much he thinks the power outage helped the 49ers.
Whether he thinks pass interference should have been called on the 4th and goal pass to Michael Crabtree:
“Would I have called that? No. I had the same reaction as Ted had when he described the play. The dreaded fade pass into the corner of the end zone where there is always going to be a little bit of contact and I thought Phil Simms put it perfectly, when he called it it was a straight incomplete pass, when they showed one replay ‘good no call’ he said and another replay ‘still good no-call by the offcials’ and then the third replay, ‘well maybe there’s a little grab there.’ Maybe you can make a case there. That’s what slow motion does, it kind of presents a case that is a maybe but there is absolutely no way in real time that you’re going to say ‘any type of material restriction’ and that’s what the book says, any type of material restriction that would’ve kept Crabtree from making the catch. Then Crabtree himself gave it away because if you look when the play is over he didn’t complain, he never complained one bit, he didn’t feel any type of restriction. I would say this too as I’ve said to others, as far as Jim Harbaugh giving the holding signal from the sideline, that it couldn’t be, it couldn’t be holding, it couldn’t be illegal contact because when that contact occurred the ball was already in the air so it was either pass interference of nothing but to me it’s nothing. Although Harbaugh probably had a pretty good view because I think for the last few plays he was standing at the 10-yard line, 20 some odd yards away from the coaching box.”
Whether part of the decision to throw a flag during that play comes down to whether the ball was catchable:
“Yeah but it was. It was catchable. That ball landed I think right near the sideline, just a little bit beyond Crabtree’s reach so catch-ability does figure into whether something is pass interference or not but as much as I have grown up a 49er fan and I love the organization, I can’t put that into the category of being the type of obvious foul that you’re going to have. It depends whose perspective. I talked to Tom Flores, I’m actually down in the desert and I’m going to see him for lunch, he said ‘I’ve seen that called and I’ve seen that not called.’ I maintain out of 10 times that same contact on that fade route on the short side of that field you are going to get zero calls out of 10 plays.”
If when the play happened factored into it:
“It’s the same. I would to think it is for any fourth down play or play of the game. If you’re 100 percent sure it’s a foul then you throw it, if you’re not sure it’s a foul then don’t throw it. I think that qualifies pretty clearly. Of all the things that you want to question, and I agree it’s something that is raising controversy and people ought to question because of the way TV slows it down and makes it look more like a foul than it is but there’s a lot of things to question. Three passing plays on the short side of the field when the action is compressed and so difficult to complete a pass so there’s coaching decisions that are made and officiating decisions that have been made but in that last series to me the closest thing to having a foul to me that would have been an acceptable call was the third down play where you had some helmet contact after the incomplete pass. In this day and age of hits on defenseless players I think you could’ve really called that. In terms of pass interference that’s just not a call you’re going to get.”
If it is true that this group of officials didn’t work together in the regular season:
“That’s correct and there was a lot of controversy going in about Jerome Boger, the referee, and was he qualified? Some of his own officials, a couple of them, raised the question questioning his qualifications for this game. To me that’s just layover from the lockout and trying to get back at the league for some of the things he said. Jerome himself did a pretty good job. He called one roughing the passer penalty against the Ravens, which was a good call, but when you’re analyzing the officiating and you’re going to put an All-Star crew out there which the league does then you have to analyze each person as the All-Star and if you’re going to have some plays that are missed, clear illegal contact that was missed in the first quarter when the 49ers committed illegal contact and wasn’t called, you have to analyze the individuals and not the crew. Overall I thought they were okay. Seven penalties called in the game is not many but then again in Super Bowl X there were only two called. The least have been called is two and the most that have been called is 20. I think it was okay. I just don’t think you can dig yourself in the third quarter into a 28-6 deficit and expect to get back and win. That’s kind of to me what happened yesterday.”
How much the power outage helped the 49ers:
“I don’t know. How do you figure that? You only look and have one team with more experience during power outages than the other. I mean the 49ers went through that at their home facility but I just don’t think so. The 49ers, after Atlanta, when they were down 17-0, they have the type of offense where I don’t think they ever feel they are out of a game. To me, they are a one drive team. It’s one drive that gets them back in the game and gets their momentum going. To me, I think that was the drive right after the power came back on and got them going.”