While the 49ers struggled in pass protection and a couple other areas last Thursday, the game also turned a decent amount on some big penalty calls. The two big ones were the pass interference call on Tarell Brown when he intercepted a pass intended for Torrey Smith, and a chop block against Frank Gore on the same play that saw Ted Ginn Jr. haul in a 75-yard touchdown catch and run.
The chop block should have actually been called on Chilo Rachal, but either way it was a bit of a ticky-tack penalty. The pass interference was a tough call as both guys seemed to be getting physical, but on the replay Brown's right hand is wrapped around Smith's left arm. That doesn't get called every time, but I'm not surprised it was called.
Officiating has always been an issue in the NFL, although sometimes it is more frequent. The big issue in my mind is inconsistency in calls. With the NFL officials operating in a part-time job, some folks have suggested turning refs into full time jobs. I can see some benefit to that, but I can also see why it might not make a difference.
As full time officials, these guys can spend their offseason studying the calls, watching game tape and generally better visualizing the plays as they unfold. On the other hand, given how quickly these plans unfold in real time, would that really make a difference? When you are an official hustling down the field on a deep pass, it seems like the chances for inconsistency are pretty high when dealing with less obvious examples of pass interference.
Is there any way to improve referee consistency? Do we go to even more replay? One option would be allowing coaches the right to challenge penalties. Maybe give them one more challenge since that adds more challengeable plays to the mix. For pass interference calls, the league could always go the college route and turn PI into a 15-yard penalty instead of spot of the foul. Any other thoughts?