The San Francisco 49ers season came to an end on Sunday, losing a 17-7 decision to the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. The 49ers offense was once again the primary culprit, but it would not be an NFL game without a referee blowing a call.
In this case, Ed Hochuli threw a flag on linebacker Nick Moody for roughing the passer by leading with the helmet. After the game, Hochuli told the media, "I felt that he hit the quarterback in the chest with the hairline, and that's a foul unless he has his face completely up and would hit it face on with the face mask. It's a foul, and that's why I called it." He contended that he hit him with the hairline of the helmet, and that while the facemask comes up, it is going to come up after the hairline first hits.
As you can see from this GIF, Hochuli really was not sufficiently in position to make the call. And it turns out, NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino agrees with what every fan saw on this play. Blandino said on NFL AM that it was not a foul (h/t @caminman). Of course, that does nothing to get back the seven points the 49ers gave up shortly after that. Had the play been properly officiated, the Seahawks would have had to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown that put them up 17-7.
Fooch's Update: PFT has more of his comments
"It's close, but when you look at it on tape, Moody's head is up, he hits with more the side or the facemask to the body of the quarterback. So in our review, with the ability to look at it in slow motion, it is not a foul," Blandino said.
All that being said, it was also just another example of the 49ers not doing enough to take the game out of the officials hands. We know NFL referees are bad and are going to make some seriously bad calls. The 49ers offense has not been remotely consistent enough to hope they don't get screwed by some bad calls. However, that does not mean we can't be furious about bad officiating. The NFL continues to make a sham of well contested football games thanks to incompetent officiating. They then apologize for it after the fact, but that doesn't make one bit of difference.