SEATTLE – Referee Ed Hochuli maintained he made the correct call on a pivotal roughing-the-passer penalty that ended up costing the 49ers at least four points in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
The 49ers appeared to hold the Seattle Seahawks to a 33-yard field goal attempt when quarterback Russell Wilson’s third-down pass attempt under pressure fell incomplete.
But Hochuli called blitzing linebacker Nick Moody for a penalty. Moody delivered a blow to Wilson's chest a split-second after the quarterback unloaded the pass.
“I thought it was a clean hit, but that’s what the ref called and that’s what it was,” Moody said. “It felt like it was clean to me."
After the Seahawks’ 17-7 victory, which eliminated the 49ers from playoff contention, Hochuli told a pool reporter that he made the correct call.
“I felt that he hit the quarterback in the chest with the hairline, and that’s a foul unless he has his face completely up and would hit it face on with the face mask. It’s a foul, and that’s why I called it," Hochuli said.
“I felt that he hit him with the hairline. The facemask, after you hit him, the facemask comes up. But the first thing that hit him was the hairline of the helmet.”
Hochuli said he differentiated between the crown of the helmet and the hairline. The crown is the top of the helmet. The hairline is the top of the forehead.
“That is still a foul when you hit the quarterback with that part of your head,” Hochuli said.
When asked if he agreed with Hochuli, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said, “No, I didn’t agree with the call.”
Two plays later, Wilson hit receiver Paul Richardson on a 10-yard touchdown pass for a 17-7 lead. If the 49ers had held Seattle to a field goal on that sequence, they would have remained within one score of taking the lead.