The opening-drive touchdown in the NFC Championship ultimately was salvaged by a great throw and catch that ultimately wasn’t. Or at least shouldn’t have been.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts rolled to his left on fourth and three from the 49ers’ 35. He threw the ball deep along the sideline to receiver DeVonta Smith, who made a great one-handed catch.
Replays eventually served up by Fox (after the ensuing touchdown and extra point and commercial) showed that the ball clearly and obviously came out when Smith went down. It was, without question, an incomplete pass.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t challenge, presumably because no one on his staff saw the replay. The teams have two devices available to help them, beyond whatever the players on the field happened to notice: (1) the replays made available by the network televising the game; and (2) whatever the home team chooses to show on the in-house video board.
But the replay assistant and/or 345 Park Avenue — which has immediate access to all angles — could have/should have seen the key shot and stopped the action. And the expedited replay review process includes catch/no-catch within the group of plays that can be changed without a full-blown replay review.
Whatever the explanation, and there absolutely should be a request made for a pool report after the game, the system failed to fix a key moment that resulted in a touchdown for the Eagles when it should have been a first down for the 49ers on their own 35.