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49ers vs. Cowboys: Let's talk about those illegal contact penalties

Craig Dahl, Jimmie Ward and Brandon Lloyd were all called for bad penalties on Sunday.

Christian Petersen

Complaining about NFL referees is a time-honored tradition. It's existed for as long as the sport has, perfected by the Oakland Raiders and widely used by every fan today. If you claim you've never been unreasonably upset over a call made by a referee, then you're either some kind of unflappable monk or you're a liar. And that's OK, we never want to admit when we're being unreasonable.

Personally, I'm perfect and am never unreasonable and I'd be happy to show you guys the ropes sometime.

What you just read is a total, unashamed lie. I'm at peace with that. What I'm not at peace with is the officiating from Sunday's season opener between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. I am prepared to do an awful lot of ranting, raving and general [site decorum] over what transpired, particularly in the second half, and I'd like to point out right now that I don't think the "unreasonable" label applies here.

But I've got a few .gifs that I made just a short while ago and I'll let you, dear readers, be the judge. We all know the NFL is "cracking down" on illegal contact penalties in the wake of ... well in the wake of the Seattle Seahawks existing. We also know that the calls were numerous and wildly inconsistent throughout the preseason. There were a few assurances prior to the start of the regular season that this was something of a test run, but on Sunday, said test bled into the aforementioned game.

As an aside, the 49ers committed a ton of penalties in the game. They deserved most of them. They have only themselves to blame and I've already noted that I'm definitely not happy about them, either. But those are a secondary concern to the possibility of getting screwed by bad calls.

There were three in particular, and I've got .gifs of all of them. The first is the illegal contact penalty called on safety Craig Dahl, a player I am constantly harping on and would be glad to blame for this if only it were justifiable:

Craig Dahl Illegal Contact

There's contact there. I don't even want to argue the "had no impact on the play" angle, I want to argue the "oh my God how is that significant enough to draw a penalty" angle. Just look at that .gif. This came on a 3rd and 21 and resulted in a Dallas first down.

The next .gif is later that same drive, and it's an even weaker illegal contact penalty. This time, it's on rookie cornerback Jimmie Ward:

Jimmie Ward Illegal Contact

This is the part where, if I didn't just buy a rather snazzy mechanical keyboard last week, I'd be throwing my keyboard in anger. The contact there is so marginal it could be described as incidental. You have a guy running full speed at another guy and contact is made. Nobody's momentum is affected. Nobody got pushed or hit or blocked into the ground. All that happened there was that Ward made an excellent play on that ball.

Of course, that penalty also came on a third down, this one with 7 yards to go. The penalty resulted in a first down. The next penalty we're going to discuss is the offensive pass interference call on one Brandon Lloyd, another player I'm not too fond of and would love to blame when he's due for it, but ... Well, I'm just going to present this one without further comment:

Brandon Lloyd OPI

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