NFL says ref was right not to flag 49ers for 12 in the huddle


Just before the 49ers scored their go-ahead touchdown at the end of the first half on Sunday, they appeared to get away with having 12 players in their offensive huddle, without getting a penalty.

But NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino says that in reality, the referee was right not to flag the 49ers. Blandino said the 49ers only had 12 in their huddle at a time when the play clock wasn’t running, and that the 12th player ran to the sideline before the ball was ready to play, which means there is no penalty.

“The play clock has not started, and you can’t have a penalty for 12 in the huddle until the play clock has started,” Blandino said on NFL Network. “That was handled properly, and they had 11 men when the play clock had started.”

A five-yard penalty would have moved the 49ers to the 6-yard line on the next play, but the 49ers stayed on the 1-yard line and scored a touchdown on the next play.

69 responses to “NFL says ref was right not to flag 49ers for 12 in the huddle

  1. No way around it, worst officiating crews in history this year. Let’s try this, no one under 70 in stripes. If you need bi-focals the friggin wear them! Viagra stays at home so you don’t get a hard on for your preferred team.

  2. Except for the fact that they have ceased calling Offensive Holding on pass plays, the officiating seems to much as it was in years past. The officials have to walk a narrow path between keeping the playing field level and not overly influencing the outcome of the game and they do reasonably well at it. Every whiner has to have an excuse when his team gets beat and denigrating the officials seems to be the preferred method.

  3. BS! What about all the headbutts by Bolden that weren’t flagged? I remember seeing him headbutt Panthers players directly in front of officials… several times, BUT THE ONE CALLED ON THE PANTHERS WAS FLAGGED BY A REF 20 YARDS AWAY! Panthers didn’t play well enough to win, but the refs definitely made it known who the NFL wanted to win. National Fixed League.

  4. The refs should not play a part in a season-ending loss. With this game, there’s a real argument that they did, which is not to say that SF would have won anyway. This and the head butt no-call and a few other drive-extending flags helped put the game out of reach for the low-scoring Carolina offense, and the fans will never know if SF could have or would have done that without the bad calls.

    Refs should lose part of their game checks for blown calls. And post-game whitewashing to save face should be avoided at all costs. Everyone knows it was a poorly officiated game. Saying “Oh, no, really guys–it was the right call” now just reminds us of that all over again.

  5. ninerdynasty32 says:
    Jan 15, 2014 7:01 AM
    It’s not like the penalty would have prevented the niners from scoring anyways…
    Perhaps. There’s no way to know for sure. It’s just like the flag that got picked up at the end of the Patriots-Panthers game. In both cases, the penalty should have been called and one more play run. And even the 49ers didn’t get a TD, they would have kicked a field goal and it would have made little difference in the final outcome. But it does provide material for the conspiracy theorists that think the entire playoffs is fixed, like this is pro wrestling.

  6. “Too many men in the huddle is a relatively rare play, and is usually cause by inattention on the part of the offensive players. Since a huddle cannot form with more than eleven players, players tend to avoid entering the huddle until substitutions have completed for that particular play. The quarterback can help keep the penalty from being called by standing away from the huddle until he is sure the right players are on the field. If twelve people are in the huddle, the referee can make the call immediately, and play stops”

  7. It would have been a field goal instead of a TD. There was 5 seconds left on the clock. I highly doubt they go for the score and risk coming away with no points.

  8. It’s not as much “they” that have an answer as it is the NFL rulebook. From Section 2, Article 1:

    “There can never be more than 11 players in the offensive huddle while the play clock is running. It is a foul, the whistle is blown immediately, and the ball remains dead. (5-2-8-a) “

  9. There were a TON of terrible calls the whole game!

    The no call on Boldin’s head butt, the roughing the passer when Cam turned into Dan Skuta, the Unnecessary roughness when the Carolina safety hit Vernon Davis on the tipped ball.

    The NFL and its officials should be embarrassed at how this game was called!

  10. NO MATTER the screw up…each and every week..they either say…OOOOOPS (SD/KC) or some hair brain..if it happens under a full moon while the QB is passing gas, and the clock is less than 30 seconds,,,then__________

    WHY CAN’T YOU JUST GET IT RIGHT? Prime example NE/CAR,,,,, ref throws a flag for PI, on final play..every fan (I was there in charlotte) in the stands all 70,000 all Panthers fans knew it was PI,,and were groaning…OMG,,,,,they knew it. Refs talk in whispers in the endzone….one grabs the flag and they all run off the field…..Game over……70,000 fans can’t be wrong… day explained:::,,,,well it can’t be interference since the reciever who was interfered with could not get back to the ball,,,,NO he couldn’t he was interfered with…..

  11. No excuse for not having the best trained and most intelligent officials in the world. I believe the NFL can afford it. Of course, they can also afford better and safer helmets for the players so who knows.

  12. What a joke….how about the penalty on Panthers for a head butt then right after Boldin head butts and no call. Is there an excuse for that one too?

  13. -djstat says:
    Jan 15, 2014 6:46 AM

    -Wow they have an answer for everything

    The answer for everything you allude to is
    actually ‘THE RULE’.
    It explains why no flag was needed.
    The Rules.
    Get it?

  14. The NFL wants us all to recognize that they are always correct in their actions even when they are wrong.

    I am still pretty sure that a 5 yard penalty may not have kept them out of the end zone on that drive. This is all about the NFL getting the two Conference Championships that they wanted from the beginning of the season…. And what do you know?.. It happened. Congrats NFL, the ratings this weekend will probably be record setting and your pockets will continue to get fatter.

  15. Oh, so all the other flags we see for that penalty were thrown in error then? 12 players in the huddle is alright, but only in the cases where it is not called a penalty? Is that the explanation we are getting here? I have seen that flagged under the exact circumstances it was not flagged in this game.

    Small things shift a game and it seems more and more like officials are helping someone do some rigging. Not always successful, but they are absolutely changing the outcomes of games in many cases.

  16. Man, I can’t believe the comments on this article (apparently by Carolina Fans?)

    What is this with referring to an officiating crew properly applying the RULES as “an excuse”.. and the “NFL trying to always look right”, blah blah, whine, whine?

    In the case being discussed, they PROPERLY applied the RULE.

    In what UNIVERSE is that an “excuse”?

    (BTW, I’m not a fan of either team.. no agenda, just can’t believe the idiotic comments..)

  17. If anyone thinks the bad play calling decided this game, they did not watch. if your only point is Boldin’s headbutt, stop watching highlights and NFL Network shows and talking like you watched the entire game. The team that played better, won. If you can’t punch in a TD on 7 tries from the 1 yard line with Cam Newton at QB, you probably aren’t going to win.

  18. theres your answer to your weak ”12 in the huddle” whining. now every 49er hater can focus on the more meaningful penalty of them all… the roughing the passer on cam newton. the 12 in the huddle is peanuts compared to the roughing the passer wich gave cam a new set of downs… all for nothing though cuz on the next play cam newton throws an interception to Donte ”knock you out” Whitner. 🙂

  19. but it was CORRECT to throw a flag when Cam Newton turns his head and body ALBEIT unknowingly into a tackle creating a helmet collision
    a sack.

  20. One can’t blame Carolina Panther fans for being frustrated with this explanation. The game was filled with questionable calls including a personal foul for “intent to hit” (in a game where players were routinely punching each other in the facemask). On a objective fan’s view, the officiating wasn’t consistent and seemed to favor the 49ers.

    Then this statement comes out where the NFL seems to pat the officials on the back for making the right call.

    Why? To prove that they can get the call right once and awhile?

    Oh well…looks like Goodell has his Conference Championship teams in place and a whole lot of TV viewers and sponsorship for booty.

  21. The better team won the game, plain and simple. Carolina was dominated in the second half. For the record, I am not a Niner fan, in fact, far from it. I can’t stand Harbaugh and his constant whining. Hell of a coach, obviously, but can’t stand the guy.

  22. I wish my team’s owner was in the mafia like the 49ers. Maybe then my team would have games handed to them on a silver platter instead of being screwed all the time.

  23. I don’t really remember who it was on the 49’s side that bumped into official twice after some kind of fight and nothing happened. I thought touching the referee was the worst you can do on the field.

  24. I’m not surprised they would say this. It was apparent early on in the game which team the league wants represented in the NFC title game based on which direction the flags were flying…

  25. I DEFY THE NFL TO DISPROVE THIS STATEMENT: Refs do not call any penalties on San Francisco except “movement” fouls, such as obvious “off-sides” or “illegal procedure.” IS IS KINDA CLEAR THAT THE REFS AND NFL WANT THE 49ERS IN THE SUPER BOWL ??

  26. As a Panthers fan yes we got the bad end of the deal with a few calls but we were also in the red zone at the 1 yard line 3 times in the first half. I don’t blame the refs I blame our OC for his lack of creativity in play calling. The same 3 plays we ran out of the same formation played right into the strength of the 49ers defense.

  27. There’s no denying that the officiating was inconsistent in this game and there’s no way of knowing how a call one way or the other may have changed the game. It’s just a shame that there’s any question at all whether the officials may have effected the eventual outcome. One thing’s for sure, that scoring drive to close the first half seemed to totally drain the Panther’s momentum and spirit. It was all downhill from there. All I ask is that the players settle it on the field and not have this cloud of questionable calls hovering over the outcome.

  28. dwoofer says:
    Jan 15, 2014 10:19 AM
    I DEFY THE NFL TO DISPROVE THIS STATEMENT: Refs do not call any penalties on San Francisco except “movement” fouls, such as obvious “off-sides” or “illegal procedure.” IS IS KINDA CLEAR THAT THE REFS AND NFL WANT THE 49ERS IN THE SUPER BOWL ??
    I suppose you will have your answer based on your perception depending on the final score Sunday?

  29. Yeah, bozos – the NFL wants the 49ers to win SO bad, they called one of the worst roughing-the-passer penalties in league history on Ahmad Brooks, costing the Niners a divisional crown and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

    Funny how none of you were using the ridiculous “mafia-owned” theory when the 49ers were being shut out of the postseason from ’03-’09.

    I suppose the refs and mafia kept Carolina out of the endzone on those two goal-line failures and forced Newton to take sacks and tyro interceptions, too.


  30. restorativejusticeprogram says:
    Jan 15, 2014 8:00 AM
    No excuse for not having the best trained and most intelligent officials in the world. I believe the NFL can afford it. Of course, they can also afford better and safer helmets for the players so who knows.


    The problem with helmets is players aren’t forced to wear properly fitted helmets. Most are far too large. It also means alot of players will have to cuy their hair.

  31. HaHa if the refs wanted the 49’ers in the Super Bowl they would have eliminated the Hawks.

  32. Not a fan of either one of these teams. In watching the game the only calls/non-calls of any mention was the already oft covered non-call head butt from Bolden which could have benefitted the Panthers & the call when Newton spun into the DE which was called for a personal foul which went against the 49ers. In watching plenty of bad officiated games this seasons saying the refs determined the outcome by Panther fans is pretty lame & a reach. This game was decided by the players and San Fran dominated the game fair & square. Carolina had the opportunities & couldn’t cash in when it counted & kind of fell apart at the end where real championship caliber teams would have played the game out for every opportunity to the end. Cam looks dejected at with several minutes left in the game.

  33. Look, every team has won and every team has lost on a bad call/non-call. Get over it if your team happens to be on the losing end of a bad call. That being said, I’m still gonna lose my mind if Seattle’s secondary gets away with P.I. the whole game next week.

  34. “lpd1964 says: Jan 15, 2014 8:48 AM
    What about the missed head butt by Boldin ? That may have impacted the drive, no ?”

    I’ll see your accidental head butt and raise you the absurd helmet to helmet “roughing the passer” call on the 49ers’ Skuda when Cam Newton turned INTO Skuda.

  35. Seems silly that the offense can purposely coax the defense to jump before the snap to get a penalty, and can purposely snap the ball while a hefty DT isn’t completely off the field yet to get a penalty , but having more than 11 people in the huddle isn’t a penalty on the offense.

  36. So for those of you who believe the NFL wanted to have these 4 teams in the Championship games, please tell us who the NFL wants in the Superbowl and who the NFL will give that game to…?

  37. What about the bobble going out of bounds..or even more obivous… the 10 guys for the 49ers who were out on the field before the ball was even caught

    Hell..Harbough was out past the damn tick marks

  38. If the ref had not wrongly called roughing the passer on Ahmad Brooks sack and fumble of Drew Brees, the Niners would have won and would be playing the NFC championship game at the “Stick not at Blowhard Stadium.

  39. One thing I’m learning from all this is that Panther fans not just Panther players need more post season experience. The game I saw was the 49er offensive and defensive lines dominated the game especially the second half. Your team got beat, they did too much pointless jawing trying to get inside someone’s head and instead lost focus on their own game. If you ‘lost’ because a head butt penalty did not get called then better quit watching and go play Madden on easy setting

  40. Stop it Carolina fans you lost own it !!! Lets not forget THANKS to refs you didnt play philly in the wildcard game. ( remember the Patriots game) If the Refs don’t blow that game your’re the 6th seed and Saints Champs !!! So move on the better team won.

  41. Speaking of the playclock. Someone should have asked Dean if the refs actually remembered to start the play clock on time on the play in question. I only ask because on SF’s 1st drive versus Green Bay, the Niners were sacked to bring up 4th down. At this point:

    – They stopped the game clock when it should have kept running
    – Did not start the play clock until 30-35 seconds after the conclusion of the next play

    Since it was so early in the game, it’s something that didn’t really matter. However, SF might have had to burn a timeout, or rush the snap on a key play. As it happened, they had time for their whole offense to run off the field, decide to go for it, run back on the field, huddle up, take their time to the line, and have 10 to 15 seconds to read the defense.

    If something like this had happened in the last 5 minutes of the game, people would have screamed bloody murder.

  42. ….in other words the NFL officials managed the clock for the 9ers. Go figure….9ers are the pet of the NFL. Jim Harbaugh is the biggest jerk of a HC in the NFL, the 9er team has become a dirty team and 9er fans have become some of the most violent (just read the post game police blotters). The end times must be a nearing cause right has become wrong!

  43. Boy it sure is a good thing we got rid of those replacement refs, right guys? The regular ones sure are perfect!

  44. The penalty on Mike Mitchell was total bull$hit.

    Someone should remind the refs and the league he is no longer a Raider so you dont have to call bogus penalties on him.

    You can only call so many bogus penalties and we all know you save them for the Raiders.

  45. Everyone needs to stop crying about this call. There were several bad calls or missed calls that should have gone in Niners favor or should not have been called as well. A couple of PI no calls against Panther D and especially the bogus helmet to helmet on Skuta should NOT have been called. I remember that EXACT same thing happened in a game during the season to Kaep. And no helmet to helmet called for him, which resulted in a sack. STOP CRYING. It was called fairly or unfairly both ways. Refs missed calls for both sides

  46. Many lame excuses by Panther fans thinking the “refs” did them in. The Panthers lost composure according to their coach. Try scoring some more in the red zone and just own up to the fact you got beat and stop crying about it already, jeez.

  47. I am a huge Panthers fan and blaming the refs for the patriots win was miserable at the time so there is no reason to start doing that now. We lost because of missed opportunities and lack of discipline but we will be better next season

  48. Boldin’s headbutt was just plain missed. I wish he wouldn’t act the fool after every catch, but it does give a bit of a preview of this week’s matchup. We’ll see if Richard Sherman wants anything to do with Q if the refs let them play.

    I can’t wait for this game…

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