SANTA CLARA – Referee Carl Cheffers and his crew called 34 penalties on Sunday night, but there were a lot of questions afterward about two times in which the whistle was not blown.
On the 49ers’ first touchdown of the game, Chicago Bears fans were left wondering why the 49ers were not called for delay of game.
After all, the play clock clearly reached :00 before center Daniel Kilgore snapped the ball to Colin Kaepernick, who then tossed to Michael Crabtree for a 3-yard touchdown. But delay penalties are not instantaneous to the clock expiring.
The back judge is responsible for watching the play clock. When the clock hits zero, he looks to see if the ball is being snapped. So there is a natural delay in the timing. In this case, a full second expired between :00 and the snap of the ball.
Another play that came under question occurred on Kaepernick’s second interception. Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller and Crabtree battled for the pass before Fuller gained control and went to the ground.
Fuller would have been down by contact only if Crabtree had touched him after Fuller gained possession of the ball. In this case, it appears as if Fuller gained control of the ball while he and Crabtree were separated.
Fuller got up at the 26-yard line and returned it to the 49ers’ 6. After Kaepernick was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for alleged “inappropriate language,” the Bears scored on the next play -- Jay Cutler's 3-yard pass to tight end Martellus Bennett -- to take a 21-20 lead.
Because it was a turnover, the replay official at the game and the head of officials Dean Blandino in New York would have reviewed the play. The call was confirmed, and the game was not stopped.
The NFL declined to comment specifically on each of those officiating decisions.
The officials played a large role in Sunday’s game. The 49ers were flagged 18 times with 16 of those penalties accepted for 118 yards. The Bears were called for 16 penalties with 10 being accepted for 56 yards.