Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers players comment on officiating in Seahawks loss: ‘We’ve got to leave it out of the referees’ hands’

Dec 5, 2021 at 6:53 PM--

It was a frustrating day on many fronts for the San Francisco 49ers during their 30-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, and the officiating during the game didn't exactly help.

The 49ers were flagged 10 times for 86 yards during the game, with more than one of those penalties coming at a crucial time. There was also one key moment in particular where some observers felt there should have been a penalty on the Seahawks that wasn't called—a play towards the end of regulation when the 49ers were attempting to tie the game with a touchdown while Seahawks cornerback Sidney Jones was getting handsy with wide receiver Trent Sherfield.

But while some 49ers fans were upset about the officiating during and after the game, 49ers players weren't overly critical about the subject, for the most part. Players mostly took the same mentality as defensive tackle D.J. Jones, who told reporters after the game that it's up to the players to make sure the officials don't become a factor.

"We've got to leave it out of the referees' hands. Not even give them a chance to throw the flag. That's where we can be better," Jones said.

Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair shared a similar stance, citing former 49ers defensive coordinator and current New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh as a guide in how to handle officiating.

"It's always tough when things aren't going your way. There's been games where those calls have gone our way and vice versa," Al-Shaair said. "You can never control that. You never want to leave it in the hands of anybody else. I remember Robert Saleh used to always say, 'You hold the pen, so you write your own story. Don't let anybody else do it.' I think when you think about it, what just happened today, you don't want to leave it in the hands of the refs to make a call for us or for them. You just want to be able to make the plays that you need to make."

Tight end George Kittle also shrugged off the officiating, saying it was up to the players to make better plays, which is more or less what he said last week when he responded to Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer's complaints about the 49ers not getting flagged for holding.

"Refs make calls, they don't make calls," Kittle said. "It is what it is. You've got to live with it. It's frustrating when there's drive stoppers. We had a couple penalties the last drive we were able to overcome. You can't use penalties as an excuse. You've just got to play better."

Defensive end Nick Bosa was a little bit more pointed in his feelings on the matter, even though he didn't dive into it too deeply.

"Yeah, it was a rough day with the refs," Bosa said. "I'm kind of used to it."

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan offered some quick opinions on the officiating during his postgame media session, speaking in particular about two personal foul calls that led to a Seahawks touchdown.

"Huge. They were a big deal," Shanahan said. "I'll have more of an opinion when I get to watch them all, but the two personal fouls on the quarterback I thought were huge. That led to a touchdown drive. I believe one was on third down. Those can't happen, and usually you can control that. It seemed like they called it because we landed on them... We've got to not do that."

Shanahan also commented on the whether or not there was contact on Sherfield in the end zone, saying, "That's what it looked like to me."

The penalties were part of a long list of errors and obstacles that made the 49ers' job much tougher against the Seahawks. They were able to fight through much of it and put themselves in a position to tie the game late, but they'll undoubtedly need to clean things up and avoid similar issues as they head down the final stretch of the season.

"It's tough, especially when you can look on the replay and kind of see how bad the call is and that continues to happen," left tackle Trent Williams said. "We're grown though. We understand that the ref's not perfect. They're human. They're going to make mistakes. I think the team did a good job of continuing to fight. We understood that those penalties kind of made some people upset. But we continued to fight—went on a 99-yard drive, came up short right at the goal line."

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