The San Francisco 49ers lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, which means it’s time for fans to find a scapegoat.
Some can blame the defense for allowing three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, while others can blame the offense for failing to score again after jumping out to a 20-10 lead in the third quarter.
Another easy scapegoat? The officials.
While the 49ers’ loss was due to a combination of several issues, there are at least three separate blown calls that could have thrown Super Bowl LIV the other way:
The offensive pass interference call on George Kittle at the end of the first half
With the game tied 10-10 late in the second quarter, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed a deep pass to tight end George Kittle that appeared to set the 49ers up for a field goal attempt at the end of the half.
Unfortunately for the 49ers, offensive pass interference was called on the play. The call was questioned by many, since it appeared that Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen was the one who initiated contact on the play, and it was only a small shove on Kittle’s part.
The receiver extends his arm and creates separation while the ball is in the air, therefore it is offensive pass interference. – AL
The 49ers were forced to take a knee and end the half instead, costing them three points that could have been big later in the game — but more on that later.
The Chiefs were clearly offside on a failed 49ers’ third down attempt in the fourth quarter
San Francisco was leading 20-10 with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, and faced a third down and 14 from their own 34-yard line. Garoppolo scrambled and came up short of the line to gain, but the 49ers should have had another chance at converting.
Replay clearly showed that a Kansas City defender jumped offside prior to the start of the play, but no flag was thrown. This would have given the 49ers another shot at a much-more-manageable third-and-nine.
Jimmy Garoppolo was hit in the head on another failed third down attempt in the fourth quarter
There were handful of questionable roughing the passer no-calls during the game, but this one really stands out.
The Chiefs scored to make the game 20-17 after getting the ball following the offsides no-call, and the 49ers went three-and-out immediately after.
On that third-down play, replay showed that Garoppolo was hit in the head by linebacker Ben Niemann, who appeared to initiate contact with his helmet on the play. No flag was thrown, and the Chiefs got the ball back again for what would be their go-ahead touchdown drive.
It’s hard to completely blame the refs for the outcome of a game (unless it’s the 2018 NFC Championship Game, of course), but these three blown calls really hurt the 49ers.