Holding penalties wouldn't have changed outcome

Matt & Mindi: The final four plays cost 49ers the game

Holding penalties wouldn't have changed outcome
February 4, 2013, 8:00 pm
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Even if seven penalty flags had been thrown, the clock still would've run until the conclusion of the play. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

NEW ORLEANS -- The fourth-down no-call on the pass intended for Michael Crabtree was the play that got the most attention.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said afterward there was "no question" in his mind that there should've been defensive holding called on Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, which would've resulted in an automatic first down.

[RATTO: Harbaugh's truest self?]

That officiating no-call is open to a debate that will rage for years.

But there should be no debate that several flags should've flown as Baltimore punter Sam Koch burned eight seconds while taking a safety, which left just :04 on the clock for the ensuing free kick.

However, those no-calls had no impact on the game. Even if seven penalty flags had been thrown -- that's right, there were at least seven obvious holding penalties -- the clock still would've run until the conclusion of the play.

The only time the clock stops immediately for a penalty is when it's a pre-snap infraction. For instance, if an offensive lineman is holding on a particular play, the play continues until it's conclusion and the clock continues to tick.

On the TV broadcast, analyst Phil Simms said, "The 49ers weren't ready for that call. Nobody was going after the punter."

Nobody was going after the punter, because at least seven -- and probably all 11 -- were being held illegally.

Baltimore's Sean Considine tackled C.J. Spillman to the ground; Ed Dickson grabbed Anthony Dixon around the waist and didn't let go; Brendon Ayanbadejo grabbed Bruce Miller; James Ihedigbo bear-hugged Larry Grant; and long-snapper Morgan Cox and Josh Bynes together tackled and grabbed Michael Wilhoite and Darcel McBath. Chris Culliver finally got out of JimmY Smith's grasp to chase Koch out of the end zone.

That left just :04 second on the clock for the free kick, and time expired when Ted Ginn was tackled on the return.

Afterward, Jim Harbaugh credited his older brother, John, for his strategy while taking a shot at referee Jerome Boger and his crew:

"Still haven't gotten an explanation on the safety. It was obviously the intent of the Ravens to tackle and hold him, but not one holding flag came out. It's a good scheme on their part to hold as many people as they can and you teach them just to tackle when you're taking a safety like that. But not one holding penalty was called. I haven't gotten an explanation. Again, I realize I'm on the side of the 49ers. I'm the coach of the 49ers. I probably have some bias there. In my mind, I thought it was obvious. That's not the way they saw it."

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