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49ers-Packers referee mistake: Bill Leavy incorrect call is not the real problem

We take a look at Bill Leavy's acknowledgement of a mistake in letting the 49ers re-play third down after offsetting penalties. It was a wild day following Clay Matthews hard hit on Colin Kaepernick. New to Niners Nation? Sign up here and join the discussion!

Thearon W. Henderson

The San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers saw their game get a little bit frisky Sunday afternoon, as a late hit by Clay Matthews led to some pushing and shoving. We took a look at a picture and two GIFs, which showed the clear late hit, and then the ensuing fracas. Here is a GIF of the fight itself. We don't get a great shot of Matthews and Joe Staley, but you get the general idea.


The announcers were quick to note via Mike Pereira that there was a mistake on the play. The 49ers had a third down before the offsetting personal foul penalties for Clay Matthews and Joe Staley. Head referee Bill Leavy stated that the 49ers would re-play the third down. It turns out that was an incorrect ruling. Leavy admitted as much after the game:

What happened?

"On the play where the quarterback [QB Colin Kaepernick] went out of bounds and was hit late out of bounds. And then there was a subsequent hit by a San Francisco player. The down should have counted. The penalties were both dead ball, and they should have offset at the spot where the runner went out of bounds. And it would have been fourth down."

So, it should have been fourth and two then?


Instead of a replay of third and six?


So, it should have actually been a fourth down play, instead of the third down. The 49ers might have elected to kick a field goal, or they might very well have gone for it. We'll never know.

After the game, Matthews acknowledged it was a stupid play on his part. You could see Matthews and Kap hug after the game, so things would seem to be cool between them. Joe Staley got in the mix and Jim Harbaugh indicated after the game that he would not have it any other way:

When they called the offsetting on when T Joe Staley pushed Matthews, you obviously seemed to take exception on it. Did you think that that's common just to kind of retaliate and protect your quarterback?

"Joe, I watched it, Joe did exactly what we coach him to do. When somebody's taking a cheap shot or trying to do something after the whistle we teach him to lock up. He did that and then Matthews throws two punches at him. The officials had their explanation, and maybe saw some other things that I didn't see, but yeah I thought that for it to even be offsetting, I didn't see it that way from my vantage point."

It strikes me as a little unfair that Clay Matthews was basically able to get away with a cheap shot and taking a swing at Staley. I forget who it was, but somebody on one of the post-game shows brought this up, discussing how it provided a little added incentive to take a cheap shot. It often seems like the player that gets in trouble is not the instigator, but the retaliator. We saw that on Sunday, and given that teams are likely to take frequent shots at Kap, this might not be the last time.

It will be interesting to see how the 49ers deal with potential cheap shots. I'm amazed Anthony Davis was not quicker into the fracas. That's usually right up his alley. The 49ers will need to maintain discipline. After the game, Kap simply said that he was happy to take the free yards. And considering the 49ers immediately turned around and scored a touchdown? Well, that was the absolute perfect response.