Vic Fangio: Officials need to err on correct side instead of safe side


49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio wouldn’t share his opinion about safety Donte Whitner’s decision to change his last name to Hitner on Thursday, but his general comments about penalties for illegal hits put him firmly in the camp of those who think that too many flags are flying around the league.

Fangio said that he thought Hitner’s hit against Rams wide receiver Chris Givens from last week was a “good play” despite the fact that the safety was penalized during the game and fined $21,000 by the NFL. Fangio explained that he thought officials flagged the play because of the way Givens’ head snapped upon contact, leading to a flag thrown because officials are erring on the safe side by penalizing any hit that looks like it may be illegal.

“They need to err on the correct side, not on the safe side,” Fangio said, via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Because if it is an illegal hit, the guy will get fined on Monday or Tuesday. If you miss it as an official, that doesn’t mean that it’s over and done with. … The part that’s hard about it all is the league has instructed officials to err on the side of caution, so they’re going to throw the flag no matter what.”

The opposite isn’t true, of course. There’s no way to walk back a flag that’s thrown in error, something that happened to the 49ers when Hitner was penalized in Week Three for using the crown of his helmet before the league deemed it a legal hit. It’s also not as simple as the fine making up for the call since officials are going to be downgraded for missing calls on the field under the current system.

Fangio would suggest they change that aspect of the system and he had another suggestion for the league office if they wanted to cut down on receivers finding themselves in peril.

“I’ve always said when they’re fining these people for these hits they should be fining the quarterback for throwing these guys into those big hits,” Fangio said.

An unlikely development, to be sure, but so was the appearance of a man named Hitner in the 49ers secondary.

12 responses to “Vic Fangio: Officials need to err on correct side instead of safe side

  1. The game is too fast for the officials. Why not make those calls reviewable, too? They’re game changers.

  2. Well said Vic. It effects the game too drastically to give the refs incentive to err in one direction since it can be rectified.

    Likewise, I wish they would dish out HEFTY fines to the guys that instigate fights when the responder gets flagged for 15 yards. How often do you see on replay that the flag was thrown on the “2nd guy” and everyone shrugs like there can be nothing done about it. Maybe even make both challengeable.

  3. “I’ve always said when they’re fining these people for these hits they should be fining the quarterback for throwing these guys into those big hits,”

    Coach speak, or just mind numbing stupidity?

  4. The league won’t listen to the fans, they won’t listen to the players, and they won’t listen to their coaches either. The only people they’ll listen to is the owner, and the owners want to protect their profit margins (high scores)and their investments (QB’s & receivers).

  5. I believe the NFL is trying to get rid of the knockout blows. High and low. They want defenders to wrap up and tackle and not throw their body’s around recklessly. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, i’m just saying that’s the way it is. Defenders need to start playing the ball to get incomplete passes or wrap up and tackle when they can’t make a play on the ball.

  6. He’s absolutely right!

    You see flags more and more for hits that are considered legal. You can’t even celebrate without first looking for a flag.

    Stop letting the refs determine the outcome of a game!

  7. The crazy thing NFL & NFL Officials is, if a person is going fast in one direction and someone forcefully hits or pushes them in another direction…wait for it….then the head IS going to snap back. If you hear a clack, it could just as easily be the shoulder pads rather than the helmet. Too many pointless flags and far too many fines. If you are going to fine I say, “Tell me how I was to avoid this coming from this angle and going this speed when this happened.” and the NFL can’t do it. If I am driving 35MPH and a sharp curve comes with no sign OR one that becomes visible when I am 3 feet or less from it how can I be expected to make the turn effectively every time? I cannot be, plain and simple.

  8. As a Niner fan I still comprehend that Whitner got fined for 21K for a borderline illegal hit that even Given thought was legal.

    On the other hand pretty boy Clay Mathews’s obvious dirty hit cost him 15K. Both of thee their first offenses.

    And my message to Whitner: Focus should be on the team not on yourself.

  9. I’ve been saying those exact same words for years now. Well said, Vic. Think about it, the defender can’t touch the receiver after 5 yards and they can’t touch him while he’s “defenseless”. So in other words, let the receiver catch the ball, let him look you in the eye, then take a couple steps before you can tackle him? QB’s no longer care about their receivers taking big hits because they know one way or the other they will get the 1st down.

  10. Totally agree. They review everything else…why not review the play and then make the call? The game is played too fast nowadays for them to make snap decisions

  11. There are way too many delays as it is now.

    Take out the gamblers and very few are really concerned.

    The NFL follows the money.

  12. Well said Vic!

    Let the Refs throw a red flag, sending the foul upstairs to be reviewed. Better to take a few seconds to get it right than to lose a game over a bad call.
    i.e. the “Fail Mary” from last year…anyone??

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