Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Was this the worst call against the 49ers in team history?

Jul 1, 2020 at 1:00 PM--

Mike Phillips of FanSided endeavored to name the worst call against each NFL team in their history. So naturally, I skipped past 31 NFL teams and headed straight to the call that went against the San Francisco 49ers.

The FanSided contributor chose the holding call against Ronnie Lott in the NFC Championship Game during the 1983 season. San Francisco had won just one Super Bowl at that point and was fighting for its second Vice Lombardi Trophy. Washington had jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the third quarter and looked well on its way to easily eliminating the 49ers.

The 49ers started mounting a fourth-quarter comeback, though. Joe Montana hit Mike Wilson for a score. Then he found Freddie Solomon for another. And then Mike Wilson again to tie up the game. Yes, Montana was working his magic and led his team to 21 unanswered points, but it wasn't meant to be.

"Washington got the aid of the refs at a key juncture in the fourth quarter when Lott was called for holding on a 3rd-and-5 from the San Francisco 13," explains Phillips. "Lott's infraction was nowhere near the play, and it enabled the Redskins to run out more clock before Mark Moseley kicked the go-ahead field goal with 40 seconds to go."

Head coach Bill Walsh was not happy with how the game ended.

"Right now I'm a little bitter about the officials," Walsh said after the loss. "It's just too bad that a championship game's decided by a call that close. I'd rather lose by the Redskins driving for a touchdown than on a call so close."

The 49ers went on to win the Super Bowl the next season, and then two more to finish out the decade, but that second championship could have come earlier, and San Francisco might be sitting with six titles if not for the call against Lott.

For those wondering, the 49ers were involved in some other calls on Phillips' list. They are the following.

  • NaVorro Bowman getting away with a holding call against the Atlanta Falcons during the 2012 season's NFC Championship Game, sending San Francisco to the Super Bowl.
  • Jerry Rice's fumble that was ruled a catch against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs during the 1998 season.
  • The pass interference non-call in the closing seconds of a playoff game against the New York Giants during the 2002 season.

Was the call against Lott the worst in 49ers franchise history? Which ones come to mind for you? Leave a comment below.

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