Much of the discussion since Sunday's game has focused on the work of the referees. I only just got home from New Orleans and still need to go back and re-watch the game, as painful as it might be. I was able to get in-game replays on a lot of the bad calls, but definitely not all of them.
Matt Maiocco posted about one more set of non-calls that I had not noticed. At the end of the game, when the Ravens punter took the safety, it is safe to say just about every 49ers special teamer was being held. And I don't mean incidental content. Several players, including Anthony Dixon, had defenders wrapping their arms entirely around their waists so they could not get to the kicker.
Jim Harbaugh had some comments on that:
"Still haven't gotten an explanation on the safety. It was obviously the intent of the Ravens to tackle and hold him, but not one holding flag came out. It's a good scheme on their part to hold as many people as they can and you teach them just to tackle when you're taking a safety like that. But not one holding penalty was called. I haven't gotten an explanation. Again, I realize I'm on the side of the 49ers. I'm the coach of the 49ers. I probably have some bias there. In my mind, I thought it was obvious. That's not the way they saw it."
Since the game, we've had fans from other sites drop by and talk about not complaining about the refs. I am generally not one to go into the refs too much, but "Mattress" made a good point in yesterday's Crabtree thread:
I can never understand why sports fans are expected to ignore poor refereeing, like we're supposed to go out of our way to excuse the incompetence because its the stand-up thing to do. All the points you made are correct, (poor secondary, coaching mistakes, etc.) but the referees are there to ensure an even playing field. They were terrible, and when the referees are bad it's especially frustrating because there is no amount of practicing, or studying, or preparing that can prevent it. It's just plain incompetence from a third party.
The 49ers have gotten their fair share of benefits from poor officiating this season. There is no doubt about it. My problem does not come with the 49ers getting screwed, but rather the general idea of piss-poor officiating costing games. I don't think the refs "had it in for the 49ers." There was no "fix." Jerome Boger and his crew were simply not good, and this should actually come as no surprise given what we discussed about his assignment earlier in the week.
I don't buy into the argument that it's crappy officiating for both teams, so that evens it out. That does not even anything out because you never know how the inconsistencies are going to strike, and I'd need to see proof before I believe it balances out over time.
It was piss-poor officiating, and there is no doubt about it. I do think both sides were able to get more physical, but I need to look for more specifics before I can make my own conclusions. I figure I'll spend a good chunk of this week reviewing the game tape and focusing on specific players and specific chunks of plays.
In the meantime, no outside fan can really tell us how we should or should not be responding to such a devastating loss. I would imagine that qualifies as the toughest loss in 49ers history given the Super Bowl context. If people are going to complain about officiating, so be it. If you are a fan of another team and have a problem with that kind of complaining, go somewhere else.