Skip to content

Ref says he gave the 49ers two challenges they didn’t have


The replacement referee working today’s 49ers-Vikings game didn’t know the rules about when a coach can challenge a call.

According to the Associated Press, referee Ken Roan said after the game that he had mistakenly awarded 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh two challenges after Harbaugh called his final timeout.

Harbaugh called his final timeout after Vikings running back Toby Gerhart was stopped on a third down. Harbaugh then challenged the play, and the referee ruled in his favor, saying that Gerhart had fumbled. But the ref said after the game that he shouldn’t have let Harbaugh challenge, because Harbaugh had already used up his final timeout.

On the Vikings’ next possession, Harbaugh again called a timeout and then challenged a Garhart fumble, and the ref again allowed the challenge. The ref said after the game that he shouldn’t have allowed Harbaugh to take that challenge, either.

The Vikings won the game, so any additional challenges given to the 49ers didn’t affect the outcome. But it is a bad sign when a referee is acknowledging after a game that he didn’t know the rules. As the lockout of the regular officials continues, the replacement referees don’t appear to be getting any better.

Permalink 61 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Minnesota Vikings, Rumor Mill, San Francisco 49ers, Top Stories
61 Responses to “Ref says he gave the 49ers two challenges they didn’t have”
  1. bluebongzilla says: Sep 23, 2012 5:49 PM

    Harbaugh should be fined for bullying the refs.

  2. perry82581 says: Sep 23, 2012 5:52 PM

    Have these refs never watched an NFL game? Why does the common fan know more about the rules than they do?

  3. edavidberg says: Sep 23, 2012 5:52 PM

    I’ve supported them but there have been really bad calls. In the Saints game they overturned two plays improperly, ditto on a catch by the tight end in OT by Tennessee.

    Can you guys summarize the latest offer by the NFL to the officials? I want to know who is being unreasonable because these refs are starting to get on my nerves.

  4. ignath says: Sep 23, 2012 5:52 PM

    Time to bring back the locked-out referee’s. Pay the men who KNOW the rules of the game and don’t allow a coach to bully them into potentially changing the outcome of the game.


  5. randygnyc says: Sep 23, 2012 5:54 PM

    Harbaugh knew he had no time outs. He bullied the refs into an extra timeout/challenge. He did it again after knowing he got away with it the first time. There’s no other way to view this as that Harbaugh was cheating. I’m expecting Gooddell to issue at least a 3 game suspension for Harbaugh. For the good of the game.

  6. ynot1381 says: Sep 23, 2012 5:54 PM

    How can Goodell watch this and think its good for the NFL brand?

    I don’t get it.

  7. phillyphever says: Sep 23, 2012 5:57 PM

    At least he’s admitting it. Something I would want the real officials to do when they come back.

  8. cali49er707 says: Sep 23, 2012 5:57 PM

    Im done with the 9ER talk until Friday!! It’s time to take my frustrations out on my Madden opponents!! Good game Minnesota!! And all the Vikings fans can laugh & take pleasure in making my life HORRIBLE until at least next Sunday!!!


  9. sfbla says: Sep 23, 2012 5:57 PM

    Slow down there skippy! This is NOT an error by a replacement official. The eal error is by the replay official who is NOT a locked out official. The replay officials are not affected by the lockout and have full authority to tell the replacement game officils that a play is not reviewable. Did someone screw up? Yep – but it wasn’t diue to the lockout. The media has an obligation to report facts not opinion. Do your jobs and stop writing the easy, lazy story. I’d like to see the issue resolved, but when the people in charge of reporting on the NFL publish complete BS it doesn’t help.

  10. bluebongzilla says: Sep 23, 2012 5:58 PM

    Better to “no” nothing about the game than to be crippled in life by a substandard education.

  11. thejuddstir says: Sep 23, 2012 6:03 PM

    The only thing this official did not admit was that he was intimidated and bullied by Harbaugh. Let’s hope the NFL fines Harbaugh for making a bigger mockery of the scab refs than what they cause themselves.

  12. 49ersgiants4life says: Sep 23, 2012 6:03 PM

    It blows my mind that the NFL stands by these guys they sit there and lie straight to our faces saying these guys are doing a great job that was horrible Harbaugh didn’t bully them into letting him have the challenge how could he do that if the refs knew the rules they would say no and he would be penalized for throwing his challenge flag without any timeouts these guys are trash

  13. jaltreality says: Sep 23, 2012 6:03 PM

    Wow, these refs are just terrible. Even when they get things right, it takes them about 10 minutes per challenge to make the call. And the players seem to treat them like substitute teachers.

  14. halen11 says: Sep 23, 2012 6:04 PM

    I love the way Harbaugh is so upset about everything all the time. He is in a constant state of being incredulous. It’s annoying and entertaining at the same time. He’s like the John McEnroe of NFL coaches.
    Must see TV.

  15. aaroncurryisbust says: Sep 23, 2012 6:05 PM

    Harbaugh should be both fined AND suspended for his boorish behavior. Bullying the refs on purpose should be punished.

  16. cardmagnet says: Sep 23, 2012 6:07 PM

    There is no reason you shouldn’t know the rules by week 3. It’s inexcusable. There are fans at home who have a better grasp of the NFL rulebook than these replacerees.

    I was sympathetic to the new refs before, because they were thrown into a bad situation. However, they’ve had 6 weeks to learn the rulebook (4 weeks of preseason, 2 weeks of regular season).

    I couldn’t imagine making so many mistakes after 6 weeks of training and hands on experience, let alone expect to keep that job.

    Goodell should be ashamed for letting this continue. I believe $50m was the gap between the union and the NFL, and it’s a small price to pay to preserve the integrity of the game, the safety of the players, and to please the fans who help the NFL make BILLIONS.

  17. daamgud says: Sep 23, 2012 6:14 PM

    Hope the league takes a long look at this entire sequence. I think most people’s disagreements with the real refs revolve around judgment calls – pass interference and the like. Our disgust with the replacements exists because they simply do not know the rules of the game.

    Can we get QB-style wristbands for the refs?? I’d rather they slow the game down than not know the rules.

  18. guessthenguessagain says: Sep 23, 2012 6:16 PM

    No excuse for Harbaugh’s unsportsmanlike tactic… what can be said of the lack of moral clarity here?

    But here’s a thought: Fox employs a retired NFL Head of Officiating (or whatever his title was) to tell us what the ruling should be on a play.

    Why not have game refs (scabs or not) take an ‘official time out’ to access a hotline to the NFL HQ to ask what the rule should be in a questionable situation?

    Is there any reason this wouldn’t work?

  19. doe22us says: Sep 23, 2012 6:17 PM

    Still think the regular refs should stil stay locked out? It was never a question for me that the replacement refs were ever going to do a good job in their forced circumstances. Bring them back Roger.

  20. ernie ernie says: Sep 23, 2012 6:17 PM

    And those same refs didn’t listen to the Vikings coach screaming on sidelines?? He was the one who was correct. This guy used his time outs and the refs didn’t even check that out. Now I am against them, time to get the real refs back, it is out of hand now.

  21. racksie says: Sep 23, 2012 6:21 PM

    How sad that likely most of the fans watching the game were aware of the rule, the rest were filled in by Mike Pierra, and the announcers, and HE DID IT AGAIN! Good point about the replay official, but ultimately the guy running the show on the field should be the head official and not some high strung ego-maniacal head coach who looked like he was going to have a stroke for about two minutes. And if Harbaugh says he didn’t know what was going on he is absolutely lying.

  22. ernie ernie says: Sep 23, 2012 6:22 PM

    Harbaugh needs to put his big boy pants on if he has any and suck it up. His team was soundly beaten and yes he is stuck with Mr Smith. My take is Smith is the achiles heel of this team. He had a great run and expectantly has played over his head for a year and a half but the Vikes showed, you pressure this guy and he’s got nuttin honey.

    Other teams will start throwing the kitchen sink at him to to force him to throw and it’s not going to be pretty.

    I thought Gore looked slow today. Where is the speed? If he has a whole big enough to drive a truck through he gets yards but other than that, he has no speed at all and can be stopped on the line early and often.

  23. theysone says: Sep 23, 2012 6:22 PM

    Niners fan here. Refs blew it.

    Harbaugh being fined/suspended? Come on, grow up.

  24. joe400e says: Sep 23, 2012 6:52 PM

    It seems the replacement refs are proving they are way over their heads on a weekly basis. I wonder how much longer the NFL will look the other way on such blatant mistakes.

  25. eddardofthehousestark says: Sep 23, 2012 6:54 PM

    Harbaugh bullied the refs? He is a coach and they are the referees. What the refs say goes, end of story. Harbaugh, like all coaches, has the right to question the refs, and he got his way today but he wasn’t out there actually making the decisions for those refs.

  26. realfann says: Sep 23, 2012 6:57 PM

    What bullying? I’m guessing all the negative comments are from folks that didn’t see any of the game.

    All Harbaugh did was throw the red hanky and ask for a review of the fumble. The refs overturned their own call so clearly the challenge was justified.

    But all the refs fault for allowing the challenge. That was pure dumb.

  27. stang232 says: Sep 23, 2012 6:59 PM

    Anyone else notice that Gerhart’s forward progress was stopped, a whistle blown and one of the judges arms was raised before the ball was fumbled?

  28. jrwskw says: Sep 23, 2012 7:09 PM

    The comment about the replay official-or someone from the NFL-stepping in to correct/prevent this is 100% true. What has amazed me from the first pre-season game with the replacements has been the obvious lack of support at the stadium sites provided for these guys by the NFL. Why?

  29. vavikingfan says: Sep 23, 2012 7:10 PM

    The play had been blown dead. If I am correct it should have been non reviewable anyway. But other writers are correct review officials should know the rules.

  30. nothimagain says: Sep 23, 2012 7:13 PM

    No really, I’d love to hear again from the folks here who think there is no difference between the scabs and actual officials. To be consistent, you should probably also admit that you can’t tell the difference in quality of play between college and the pros.

  31. Grinds My Gear says: Sep 23, 2012 7:19 PM

    So honestly here, how much are the replacement refs getting paid? How much are the making on the side. Look at the spreads, look at the spreads after each half, someone on the field is making a few more bucks at half time.

  32. vikesfansteve says: Sep 23, 2012 7:21 PM

    Harbaugh shouldn’t have been allowed 5 timeouts but he did feel Gehart fumbled (3 times) but he did bully the official into reviewing the play. The problem I have is the review official rewarding SF the ball after forward progress was stopped for at least 3 seconds and the whistle had been blown. That guy isnt even a replacement ref either. What a colossal blunder that could have been.

  33. Mr. Wright 212 says: Sep 23, 2012 7:33 PM

    Refs cheating for SF? You don’t say???

  34. turfrage says: Sep 23, 2012 7:36 PM

    Can’t believe no one has stated the obvious here. Harbaugh KNOWS the rules very well as a head coach. So why would he do that twice in a row? The ref should have known the rule, but he DID know it and chose to play outside the rules.

  35. getadealdonealready says: Sep 23, 2012 7:37 PM

    @theysome – I agree that suspension is over the top, however everything Goodell does in response to discipline is over the top in my opinion. He has made a point already to say that bullying the replacement officials will not be tolerated, and it will continue until he makes an example of someone. If he wants these officials to be able to withstand these mistakes he will have to make a statement with a big fine or suspension along the way, not sure this warrants it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens.

  36. wicky888 says: Sep 23, 2012 7:56 PM

    I liked during the Eagles-Cardinals game when it took them 15 minutes to spot the ball and resume play after a sack/offensive holding call. They were applying the sack/loss of down+penalty yards. The TV camera showed a bunch of Eagle players laughing at them.

  37. jkaflagg says: Sep 23, 2012 8:11 PM

    So, Jim Harbaugh should be punished for hammering on the poor replacement refs ????

    Remember this is football, where despite the Faith Hill theme songs and Tebowmania antics, the main focus is knocking the snot out of the other guy… this environment, rabid personalities like Harbaugh (and his evil twin Greg Schiano) can thrive….if they were calm, rational, reasonable people they wouldn’t be football coaches…..

    Regarding the refs, aside from the problems with rules interpretations (why are they not getting help from the booth ?), they seem to make about the same number of errors as the regular refs, although they seemed to struggle with downfield calls this week……

  38. monkeyhateclean says: Sep 23, 2012 8:31 PM

    Good, well-coached, well-officiated game.

  39. monkeyhateclean says: Sep 23, 2012 8:35 PM

    As despicable as the “real” refs are, I have to admit they wouldn’t have botched this game, or let a loser like Harbaugh intimidate them.

  40. monkeyhateclean says: Sep 23, 2012 8:36 PM

    Did he also acknowledge he didn’t know that when a ref blows his whistle, the play is over? Because that knowledge would have resulted in the 1st erroneous fumble call not being called.

  41. monkeyhateclean says: Sep 23, 2012 8:36 PM

    How classy of Harbaugh to bully the refs, and take the time outs and challenges he knew he shouldn’t have. I truly hope reporters calls him on it in the post-game press conference, so he has to lie about not knowing the rules.

  42. purpleguy says: Sep 23, 2012 8:40 PM

    I don’t care — we beat the 49ers even if Harbaugh cheated — and we beat them soundly. This is almost as good as beating the Packers (almost).

  43. jazz11001 says: Sep 23, 2012 8:47 PM

    Cmon Harbaugh, report directly to Rodger’s office and explain why it is that you think it is ok to manipulate the refs? If the representatives of the league are now allowing this then they should all report to congress because the integrity of the game is being manipulated. How do we know the this isn’t the new WWE? They tried in every way to give that game to the 49ers. Sorry vegas but now you gotta break Goodell”s legs

  44. thejuddstir says: Sep 23, 2012 9:08 PM

    “Harbaugh’s knowledge of the rules and his intimidating ways may give the 49ers an advantage with bewildered replacement officials. Harbaugh has said as much to his team.

    “Our coach told us not to worry about the officials,” running back Frank Gore said last week.”Go out there and do our job and let him take care of the officials, and that’s what we do.”

    This is quoted from San Fran. Chronicle…..Someone needs to knock Harbaugh down a notch and let’s hope the NFL gives him a significant fine for his b.s. today and also that they decide it’s time to settle with the fulltime officials. This game and the saints*/chiefs game were an embarrassment to the NFL

  45. mattsg22 says: Sep 23, 2012 9:31 PM

    This was horrible watching Harbaugh manipulate the referees. Leszlie Frazier was an absolute joke too giving the ball to Gerhart right after he fumbled with AP on the sideline then not even challenging the ref’s calls. It ruined a great game.

  46. monkeyhateclean says: Sep 23, 2012 9:46 PM

    Here’s hoping coaching karma causes the Niners to lose 3-4 games they would have otherwise won, the Cards take the division and the Niners miss the playoffs, resulting in Harbaugh being fired and having to take a DivIII coaching job.

  47. chargrz says: Sep 23, 2012 9:49 PM

    Who cares? Game was over well before that call.

  48. pappavike says: Sep 23, 2012 10:06 PM

    Goodell will most certainly have a word with Harbaugh! But there won’t be any disciplinary actions taken! Nor should there be! I belive the big mistake was made upstairs in the booth, by the replay officials they should have known the right way to handle things. Im just glad it worked out right for the Vikes!! They earned this win against the 9ers! Ponder played very well! and now he get’s Jerome Simpson back! More toys for Ponder! I would think that would free up Harvin even more!! which bodes well for Peterson too!! GO VIKES

  49. ronaldmexico says: Sep 23, 2012 10:18 PM

    I’m surprised one of the officials or the Vikings coaches didn’t say something after the first improper challenge.

    Harbaugh had the stones to try it twice – what’s his deal?

  50. ninja6r says: Sep 23, 2012 10:18 PM

    I love how a few on here are saying Harbaugh cheated. It’s within the rules to ask for timeouts. It’s the ref’s responsibility to ignore his request. Plan and simple. I’ve been waiting to see a Head Coach do this since the Seattle/Arizona game.

  51. pack13queens0 says: Sep 23, 2012 10:21 PM

    I actually think the officials hurt the 49ers today. Ponder was down before he crossed the goal line & the personal foul penalty late in the 3rd quarter should not have been called either.

  52. frank booth says: Sep 23, 2012 10:32 PM

    It’s not Harbaugh’s problem. This isn’t even an issue if the regular refs are out there. The league is trying to protect the amateur referees to make them look better and give themselves a better bargaining position. The officiating this week overall was the worst of the season.

  53. maxl49 says: Sep 23, 2012 11:10 PM

    not to mention the extra td they gave the vikings and plenty of extra yards they gave them …

  54. jibberator says: Sep 23, 2012 11:38 PM

    Not to mention that they miscalled 3 fumbles down by contact that game in the 4th quarter, 2 of which were obviously turnovers and HAD to be challenged.

    Or the “Illegal block in the back” by the kicking team on the first kickoff, I mean really, what was that?

  55. shl4vikes says: Sep 24, 2012 12:44 AM


  56. realfann says: Sep 24, 2012 4:02 AM

    The ref, after the game, said that Harbaugh asked the NFL extra official & the lineman on the sideline standing by him, whether he could throw a challenge after calling a timeout.

    They said yes.

    So they called over the ref who agreed to review the play.

    No bullying. By anyone.

    But please carry on with your ignorant anti-Harbaugh invective. I’m sure it makes you all feel real big.

    I’m guessing a bunch of 0-3 Saints fans with their panties in a twist.

  57. brewdogg says: Sep 24, 2012 8:54 AM

    And there is the whining….. How about this for an explanation for this game. Patrick Willis was not the best LB in this game. Greenway was. He was everywhere today, 2 sacks and 2 QB hits, 13 tackles….. Give some credit where it’s due, 9ers fans, or accept the forty-whiners label.

  58. brewdogg says: Sep 24, 2012 9:41 AM

    pack13queens0 says: Sep 23, 2012 10:21 PM

    I actually think the officials hurt the 49ers today. Ponder was down before he crossed the goal line & the personal foul penalty late in the 3rd quarter should not have been called either.

    You’re just mad because the Vikings have already exceeded your 1-15 prediction and did so by beating a team that kicked the crap out of your beloved packers. How about you go hide your shame on the Packers threads and leave Vikings threads alone for a while.

  59. drew2745 says: Sep 24, 2012 2:22 PM

    NFL head coaches have always been in the ears of referees and head linesman. Nothing new there. I think back to the one video where Jerry Glanville is telling the one official “This is the NFL, which stands for Not For Long if you keep making calls like that.” These replacement referees are like having a substitute teacher in a classroom: you see just how far you can get away with doing what you normally wouldn’t do with your normal teacher. In the case of Harbaugh, he should very well have known what the rules are for challenging plays in the NFL, how many challenges he gets, and under what situations he can challenge a play. Should he be suspended?? No. Fined?? Maybe, considering Goodell told all the head coaches of NFL teams to let the officals do their jobs, and to not bully/coerce/take advantage of them. At the same time, these replacement officials have someone on the sidelines from the NFL helping them out with calls, as well as the officals in the booth, so there shouldn’t be much problems with that. However, which game was it where a 15 yard penalty was spotted as a 20 yard penalty??

  60. applecool1981 says: Sep 24, 2012 6:38 PM

    cardmagnet says: Sep 23, 2012 6:07 PM

    There is no reason you shouldn’t know the rules by week 3. It’s inexcusable. There are fans at home who have a better grasp of the NFL rulebook than these replacerees.

    I was sympathetic to the new refs before, because they were thrown into a bad situation. However, they’ve had 6 weeks to learn the rulebook (4 weeks of preseason, 2 weeks of regular season).

    I couldn’t imagine making so many mistakes after 6 weeks of training and hands on experience, let alone expect to keep that job.

    Goodell should be ashamed for letting this continue. I believe $50m was the gap between the union and the NFL, and it’s a small price to pay to preserve the integrity of the game, the safety of the players, and to please the fans who help the NFL make BILLIONS.


    ITA and will expound on your point. Not only did they have the 4 preseason games as “training time” and have the experience of their officiated two games previous before this weeks games, they had from the moment they were hired, during the onset of the referee lockout, to learn the rulebook.

  61. twelsh36446 says: Sep 27, 2012 8:15 AM

    Harbaugh needs a suspension. He bulled the Refs twice knowing dam well he had no time outs. He cheated publicly which will say a lot about his integrity for the game. He should be gone for 1 month at least, and if Goodell doesn’t Suspend him he is showing the how bad the NFL management has become since his tenure.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!