Dolphins' Mike Gesicki on critical fourth-down play: ‘I thought it was a catch'

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Mike Gesicki thought it was a catch.

The officials did, too.

The cameras told another story, and once San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan appealed to them, a critical fourth-down conversion by Gesicki was overturned, handing the 49ers the ball and eventually a 33-17 victory.

The play was a fourth-and-2 from the 49ers’ 36-yard line with 6:03 remaining. Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel had little choice but to take the gamble because three minutes earlier, he took a much bigger risk that paid off.

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Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki battles the 49ers' Dre Greenlaw for what would be a fourth-down conversion. It was first ruled a catch, but overturned via coach's challenge.
Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki battles the 49ers' Dre Greenlaw for what would be a fourth-down conversion. It was first ruled a catch, but overturned via coach's challenge.

Gesicki, a tight end, said the Dolphins had two options on his play: one was a play for man coverage, one for zone. Zone, it was. Tua Tagovailoa hit Gesicki just before Gesicki fell out of bounds with Dre Greenlaw draped over him. Officials initially credited Gesicki with a 3-yard gain. Shanahan reached for his challenge flag.

“Dude stuck his arm in, so it ended up hitting like his forearm or whatever,” Gesicki said. “So I tried to catch it off of the ricochet of hitting his arm.

“I pinned it against like my head as I was going down. I don’t know. I’m not in the booth or on TVs. I don’t see all the angles. But it seems like all the angles that I saw, it looked like a completion.”

Officials finally determined Gesicki didn’t have control of the ball.

“I don’t know,” Gesicki said. “I mean, who knows these days, catch or no catch, whatever it is? But I thought it was a catch and especially when you call it on the field. I mean, it is what it is.”

Receiver Tyreek Hill said the Dolphins can’t cut it that close in the future.

“As a guy who’s been in this league for a long time, you can’t put a game in the referees’ hands,” Hill said. “The referees, they did a great job with calling the game all game. So I feel like at a moment like that, we just can’t give them the opportunity to put us in that situation. So a great play call, great execution by Tua and Mike. We’ve just got to clean it up a little bit better.”

Once the 49ers took possession, they not only ate up nearly four minutes, but they drove 34 yards in 10 plays for a 48-yard field goal and a 26-17 lead. Then, on the next play from scrimmage, the 49ers returned a Tagovailoa fumble for a touchdown to make it look like a runaway.

The irony is that earlier, it seemed as if things were lining up for the Dolphins to be the ones running away with the win. On the first play from scrimmage, Tagovailoa hit Trent Sherfield for a 75-yard touchdown. Ten seconds in, Miami had a 7-0 lead.

“I was like, ‘Whoa, Trent Sherfield’s kind of fast, huh?’ ” Hill said.

Running back Raheem Mostert, also recognized as one of the NFL’s fastest players, added, “I was just trying to pick up speed and trying to get down as fast as I can and see if I can try to get a block or two.”

Sherfield’s score, and Tagovailoa’s 45-yard strike to Hill early in the fourth quarter, proved to be the exception. In between those bolts of lightning, the Dolphins had seven possessions, resulting in three points, two interceptions and four punts. To call it an uneven performance by one of the league’s best offenses would be an understatement.

“It’s football,” running back Jeff Wilson said. “I mean, you can’t really calculate or understand or know everything that’s going to happen after every play. That’s why it’s entertaining for everybody.”

The Dolphins ran only 45 plays to San Francisco’s 79. Miami’s running game especially took a hit, attempting only eight carries for 33 yards.

“I’ve talked to the running backs already and told them that we’re going to do a little bit extra meeting time,” Mostert said.

The job was made tougher because starting tackles Terron Armstead (pectoral) and Austin Jackson (ribs) were out. That contributed to McDaniel having to roll the dice on those fourth downs.

“I always respect Mike’s calls,” center Connor Williams said. “I mean, you’ve got to love him for it. I think he understands what we’re feeling. Obviously, we want to go for it, too.”

Hill’s emotions were clear as the game went on. He was making no apologies for any frustration.

“My message to all the guys is just let your passion show, dawg,” Hill said. “I feel like a lot of people may take it as frustration. I look at it as passion. That’s all this game is about.”

Hal Habib covers the Dolphins for The Post. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Dolphins' Mike Gesicki thought fourth-down play was a catch