The San Francisco 49ers have one of the most ferocious defenses in the league.
Donte Whitner, Patrick Wilis, NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks all take pride in hitting hard and being intimidating to opposing offenses.
However, their style of play has led to penalties and fines on more than one occasion this season.
Brooks was called for a 15-yard penalty and fined $16,000 for a hit of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees two weeks ago. Whitner was fined $21,000 for an illegal hit against the St. Louis Rams in Week 4 that helped keep the Rams out of the end zone.
With the league focused on increased safety for the players with an emphasis on eliminating illegal hits, Brooks and Whitner want to see replay expanded to include penalties, such as the ones they had called against them, that could alter the outcomes of games.
“We really need to get something done about that — replay, something — so it doesn’t cost us football games,” Whitner said, via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News.
The penalty called against Brooks in New Orleans helped extend a Saints drive that led to the tying field goal. The fumble forced by Brooks was recovered by Willis and would have given the 49ers the ball. Brooks agreed with his teammate.
“When defensive penalties happen, they should review them,” Brooks said. “It’s a call that goes up in the air.”
Brooks is appealing his fine. Whitner told Inman that he won his appeal. Whitner added that players shouldn’t be punished when they actually make the correct play. He feels too many times, defensive players are getting flagged for clean plays. Whitner cites Brooks’ hit on Brees as one of those plays.
“He did everything he’s supposed to do. It’s not his fault that Drew Brees is a little guy and can’t really take a hit. That’s really what won the football game for them. We feel like it cost us the game,” Whitner said.
Whitner has a point. The league is asking defensive players to adjust how they hit offensive players in the hopes of improving player safety. When a defensive player actually makes the proper play they shouldn’t be penalized for it. However, expanding replay to cover penalty enforcement could further bog down the pace of games and may not be a practical solution as the system is current set up.