Following Sunday's 17-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers were officially eliminated from playoff contention, and they have referee Ed Hochuli to blame. OK, so they have a lot of folks to point the finger at for their 7-7 record, but Hochuli's incorrect call is the latest and easiest scapegoat.
On a third-and-5 early in the fourth quarter, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson couldn't connect with rookie wide receiver Paul Richardson, but a roughing the passer penalty against 49ers linebacker Nick Moody bailed out Seattle. Instead of kicking a field goal to remain ahead by one score, the defending Super Bowl champions received a first down and scored a touchdown to go up 17-7 two plays later.
Not 24 hours later, NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino admitted Hochuli blew the call.
“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," Blandino told the NFL Network, according to ProFootballTalk's transcription. "So in our review, with the ability to look at it in slow motion, it is not a foul."
In other words, keep those guns in their holsters next time, Ed. Given the opportunity to admit his mistake to a pool reporter in the immediate aftermath of the NFC West battle, Hochuli stood by his call.
"I felt that he hit him with the hairline [of the helmet]," Hochuli told the pool reporter. "The facemask, after you hit, the facemask comes up. But, the first thing that hit was the hairline of the helmet."
Needless to say, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh disagreed with Hochuli's assessment even before Blandino did.
"No, I don’t agree with the call," Harbaugh told the media in his postgame press conference. "I did not get an explanation on that one. All three personal foul calls I did not agree with."
Of course, his Niners still would have had to convert a fourth-and-1 at Seattle's 38 or a fourth-and-4 from the Seahawks' 49 on their ensuing drives to keep the season alive, but it's always fun to blame the refs.