One thing rather interesting that I didn’t even catch during the game was a verbal spat between San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman and Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh on the sidelines. As he went out of bounds, Sherman gave a hit to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the refs threw a flag. They later picked it up, and Harbaugh then had words for the San Francisco 49ers cornerback, calling it a dirty hit.
Sherman was asked about the conversation in his press conference and had some words for when to hit a running quarterback in general:
Well, he [Harbaugh] was saying it like it was a dirty play on Lamar and it’s like, “The quarterback’s running just like a running back. If you don’t touch him, then he runs up the sideline for 80 yards. If you touch him, then it’s a hubbub like he wasn’t going to run it. That’s a thing where the league has got to clarify. As a defensive player, you don’t want to hit the quarterback, you want to stay off of him, but when a quarterback is about to run, there’s a fine line between him faking it like he’s going out and then getting an extra 6, 7 yards and him going out of bounds. That’s where it’s tough on defensive players.
Every play, the quarterback slides and they are like, “Oh my God! That should be a flag.” And it’s like, “Well, he was running, just a half a second ago.” You’re making split second decisions like, “hey, I gotta tackle him.” And then he slides and then they are blaming a defensive player.
This isn’t anything new. When Colin Kaepernick played in the same offense years ago, the Green Bay Packers and the NFL at large were asking for further clarification of when they could hit Kaepernick and other running quarterbacks. The explanation became just as complicated as the rule itself. Figures, since this is the league still trying to figure out what a catch is. Defenders are in a tough spot to make split-second decisions, and while they might not know whether to make a play or not, I’m beginning to wonder if the officials have any idea of if they should throw a flag or not.
I think it’s a fine time to bring up just how bad the officiating was in that game yesterday. First of all, I do not think the officiating cost the 49ers that game. Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling cost them that game. Jimmy Garoppolo’s turnover cost them that game. The defense biting on dumb plays cost them that game. The officiating did not cost them.
But it was still frustrating. Every replay you saw had the 49ers getting mugged, yet the 49ers are the ones getting called for blocks in the back, holding, and other lame calls. Meanwhile, the Ravens get a total of one penalty on their offense, an illegal formation call. Then there’s the generous spot on a 3rd down where the carrier stepped out of bounds before the marker that you’re not overturning no matter how much you want to try.
None of this would bother me if it weren’t, A: the way the Ravens’ running game managed to get success and B: was one of the many ways the Ravens managed to beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl years ago (remember that kick off? Ugh).
And before Ravens fans get in here to mention the pass interference review on Ward that didn’t get overturned, that call would have been absolute garbage if thrown. Ward was making a play on the ball—and you know it.
I don’t mind generous flags or the refs keeping it in their pocket, but they need to make sure they are consistent on both sides. Right now, it gets more apparent the NFL needs a sky judge and more accountability with their officials. What they have isn’t working, and it has begun to seem very one-sided. I’d assume NFL officiating is the hardest across basketball, baseball, and football, and the game is getting far too fast for fair, quick calls. Get a sky judge, remove TV timeouts, and replace them with review time outs.
And Jackson, stop flopping. While I don’t blame the officials for the roughing calls on the 49ers’ late hits on Jackson (well, the first one was obvious, the second was trashy), Jackson’s flop after one certainly didn’t help me feel sorry for him.
Then again...it wasn’t near as bad as this: