In the San Francisco 49ers’ 34-28 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon, a moral from our childhood was brought to the forefront: Two wrongs don’t make a right, not when Bill Leavy is officiating the game.
Following a blatantly late hit by Clay Matthews on Colin Kaepernick, a skirmish ensued when left tackle Joe Staley brought it upon himself to come to the defense of his quarterback. The end result was offsetting penalties that should have left the 49ers with a 4th-and-2 opportunity.
Key word: should. What actually happened was a blown call by Leavy, who deemed the penalties offsetting and instead granted the 49ers a complete redo of the play.
One play later, the 49ers led 14-7 after an Anquan Boldin touchdown reception. While we can’t say for certain how big of an influence this call had on the end result—the play happened early in the second quarter—what we do know is that in the NFL, the difference between a seven-point lead and a three-point lead is huge.
The biggest blunder by Leavy, however, was not that he blew the offsetting penalties call, but that he made the call at all. To deem the egregiously dirty hit by Matthews as equal to Staley’s reaction is absurd.
Matthews, who had chirped all week about his intentions on punishing the quarterback as much as possible, according to Kevin Patra of NFL.com, resorted to Ndamukong Suh-like methods to achieve his goal. Staley did what every other lineman in football would do: protect his quarterback.
The NFL, to its credit, has acknowledged that the call on Staley was a farce, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com: “After reviewing the play, Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino determined that Joe Staley should not have been penalized.”
What Leavy seems to have forgotten is that this is the NFL, and in the NFL, skirmishes happen in seemingly every game. In a game as rooted in brutality and violence as football, situations like this require a certain amount of leeway. Especially when it transpires as a result of bush-league tactics.
Kaepernick, Staley and the rest of the 49ers put the rest of the league on notice with the win: The NFL’s new rule change on read-option offenses will do nothing to deter their goal of a Super Bowl.
Kaepernick proved in the win that he has more than enough poise in the pocket to beat anyone, regardless of a team’s game plan. And speaking of game plans, Kaepernick had some choice words after the win for anyone coming in with a Matthews-like mentality, via Andrew Pentis of 49ers.com:
"I'm not worried about what people are saying," the quarterback said, referencing Matthews' mid-week comments. "If intimidation is your game plan, I hope you have a better one."
Blown calls by officials or not, there might not be a game play out there capable of stopping the prolific 49ers offense.
What do you think? Was the Matthews hit dirty? Should Staley have been penalized for reacting? Sound off in the comments below!