If you are a 49ers player, coach, executive or fan, anger is a reasonable feeling after their 23-20 loss to the Saints.
San Francisco probably needed to beat New Orleans to remain alive to win the NFC West, and the 49ers played very well. They led 20-17 late in the fourth quarter. And when linebacker Ahmad Brooks sacked Drew Brees, forcing a fumble that Patrick Willis recovered with 3:12 left, it looked like the game was over.
But it's almost impossible to hit the quarterback anymore without drawing a penalty.
Brooks drilled Brees, who never saw Brooks coming. Brooks' right arm hit Brees in the upper chest, with his upper arm on Brees' neck. It was a sack. Brooks couldn't have really hit Brees anywhere else (remember, Brees is pretty short for a quarterback). It was a great play. But the flag came, because the flag always comes these days.
The Saints got possession back on the roughing the passer call, took the 15 yards and got a game-tying field goal. The New Orleans defense got a stop, and the Saints marched down for the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Although Brooks' hit looked clean, former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira said the call was legit.
Clearly a foul in New Orleans - that was a blow to the neck.
— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) November 18, 2013
Pereira obviously knows the rules and has an uncanny accuracy rate on plays like that, but that didn't seem like a penalty. And if it is a penalty by the letter of the law, it really means that defenders shouldn't try to hit the quarterback anymore. There's no place to hit the quarterback anymore without drawing a penalty.
So feel free to be upset, San Francisco. Actually, if you're an NFL fan outside of New Orleans, you might want to be a little peeved. The 49ers were robbed.
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