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Let’s start from the top. By the top, I mean the play people keep assuming led to the 49ers demise.
Amhad Brooks’ sack on Drew Brees was illegal. He hit Brees in the neck, and while you may not like this particular rule -– well –- that’s totally irrelevant. It’s the rule.
The penalty on Drew Brees was not controversial.
It is a penalty. Was a penalty. Will be a penalty next week, whether you like it or not.
No, I do not care that if this exact scenario happened to Joe Montana the play wouldn’t have been flagged. I don’t care because Drew Brees wasn’t playing in 1995. This is 2013. That’s a penalty.
The Saints are not a worse team because they benefited by having the referee make the correct ruling on the field.
Yes, I know that Drew Brees is short, but to suppose that, if Brees was 6’4” the hit would have been legal is asinine and insulting. You know what? If Drew Brees was 9’6”, then Brooks’ hit would have hit him in the knees and it would have been a penalty!
And if we lived in the era where real, grown-ass men played football, then we’d all be chewing tobacco and looking at a computer screen like it was hand delivered to you by Beelzebub. Get over it.
Besides — and this is the really important part — that wasn’t even the game-defining moment. To assume that it was would be to ignore the final 3 minutes and 16 plays of the game.
The refs didn’t win us the game. The Saints won. Here’s why.
Drew Gave Back the Penalty Yardage
Drew Brees is a good guy. The best guy, really. He actually felt so bad about the personal foul call, that –- without any pressure -– he threw the ball away and graciously accepted the lost yards. Sure, the 49ers didn’t get possession, but we can only do so much to appease the football gods.
Sean Payton Outcoached Jim Harbaugh
Admit it, when Sean Payton called that timeout with 2:11 seconds left on the clock you were yelling at the television.1 The official reason Payton gave for using a timeout here was to give Garrett Hartley less time to think about the kick. A timeout here is 30 seconds, whereas the 2 minute warning is about 3-5 minutes of downtime. That’s great and all, but that’s not the real reason he did it.
Payton knew the 49ers couldn’t move the ball on us and started playing for keeps. Not only did Sean manage to squeeze in a play before the 2 minute warning, but after a Morstead touchback, we managed a second timeout with 2:01 to play. More on that in a second.
This Play Happened
At first glance, this is a great play by Junior Galette. He starts wide (7 technique?), and then shows off his speed with a great move to the inside for the sack. He blazes by the guard and gets to Colin Kaepernick untouched.
But if you watch it a second time (or on a continuous loop because it’s a GIF…), you see that the reason Galette goes untouched is because the 49ers double team the most explosive man on the field. That’s right. They were terrified by backup linebacker/defensive end Keyunta Dawson. His single tackle of the season came in Week 10 against the Cowboys and it was devastating. No wonder the 49ers decided to double team that monster.
Sean Payton Keeps Running Laps Around Harbaugh
With 2:01 on the clock after the Galette sack, Sean Payton and Rob Ryan convene for a mind-meld. Their interaction went something like this:
Payton: Steely glare of determination directed at Rob
Ryan: “Shiiiiit, I got this.”
Payton: Walks away nodding
They’re the best.
If the Refs Wanted to Give Us the Game, This Would Have Been a Safety
This is not the clearest indication of what’s happening, but the play does roll out to the left (the original hashmark behind the tackle on the left, is clearly in the middle of the second screen shot).
Fun anecdote, when the 49ers lined up on the 11 for this play, my girlfriend called a safety.
I almost proposed on the spot. We were two feet to the left from getting engaged on Sunday.
Upon further review, I guess I don’t disagree with the “well outside the pocket” call. I was a little snarky, but rational thought prevails thanks to the the coaches film. Kaepernick was a good two feet outside of the tackle box. But that play was awesome.
Then Kaepernick Decides the Degree of Difficulty is too Low
So he runs out of bounds on this play, preserving a Saints timeout and putting Sean Payton’s master plan further into motion.
I really don’t have anything snarky to say here. Thanks, Vacarro Kaepernick!3
Osgood Takes Away Their Best Weapon
I guess the 49ers felt bad that Sean Lee was having such a stellar day that they thought it’d be nice to give us a free 15 yards for our troubles.
Seriously, this play cracks me up every time.
Now it’s 1st and 10 on our 40 yardline with a timeout and 101 seconds with which to win. I mean, please. Payton goes for the okey-doke and rushes on the first play, then dinks for 9 yards to Jimmy Graham, then 20 yards to Colston (because they were stupid enough to blitz Brees on the final drive), and finished off with a 12 yarder to Graham which sets up…
But seriously guys.
Even though we would still have had plenty of time after the supposed sack-fumble, and even though San Francisco was in total meltdown mode by then, the referees were clearly to blame for San Francisco’s loss.
And Drew Brees is short.