49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

October 13, 2008
Insult to injury: Philly fans rock the 'Stick

Lots written today about Mike Nolan's odd challenges. I will add to that chorus, but first a subject that could and should be more distressing to the Yorks ... Philly fans. Lots of them. The Candlestick stands yesterday were covered with green, like some noxious weed grown out of control. A week after hearing the chant of "Let's go, Sox!" echo through the 49ers hallowed stadium, on Sunday it was "Beat, L.A.!" Sure, San Franciscans can get behind that sentiment. But from Eagles fans?

I grew up in the Mid Atlantic. I know people from Philadelphia. (Yeah you, Simon) Lemme tell you, there is nothing you want less in your home than a Philadelphia fan. The 49ers had thousands of them in their home on Sunday. I'm conservatively estimating there were 12,000 Eagles fans on hand. And if you doubt me, listen to the telecast. It sounds like the game was played at the Linc. It was like the whole city decided to spend Columbus Day in the Bay Area. To do list: Wine country. Alcatraz. Beat up on the 49ers.

And like I said, that has to me more maddening to the Yorks than botched calls or interceptions or dubious fourth-quarter decision making. Because for the last two weeks, 49ers fans have stated loudly and clearly - and correctly - that they have no confidence in their team. For as many Patriots and Eagles fans as there were at Candlestick, there had to have been a almost equal number of empty seats. And Lord knows how many seats the Yorks are buying up themselves. All in all, it's an ugly situation for a family that's trying to convince the public to help finance a new stadium ...

Midway through the third quarter, Nolan elected to go for it on fourth and one in Philadelphia territory. He succeded and I wrote in my notebook, "For the first time, Nolan correctly gauged the tenor of the game regarding a fourth-down call." But a quarter later, Nolan squandered the good will when he lost his second challenge of the day on a call he had no chance of overturning. It was a wasted timeout when it was clear the 49ers would be needing all the timeouts they had...

What was going through Nolan's head, you ask? Judge for yourself:

RE: On the two challenges you made, the first one...
"Remind me of them."

RE: The deep one to DeSean Jackson and the field goal. What did you hear upstairs?"Well, I was right there on the sidelines for the first one. All I asked upstairs is, was it clear that he caught it in bounds. We had it on the billboard when I saw it as well and I thought it was very close. My question was, 'Did he have possession?' I saw his feet. I wanted to know if he had possession because if he was still bobbling it, then naturally it wouldn't have been a catch. So that's why I did that one. The second one?"

RE: The field goal.
"The field goal. Yeah. This is not a complaint to the officials but they have to make a signal at some point that says it's above the bar or not. Because as it is, I challenged it not knowing if it's above or below. What I'm saying is if the challenge...I still have to challenge because I threw the red flag. Because I asked him, 'Is it challengeable?' And he said, 'It really doesn't matter now that you threw the red flag.' So either way it was going to cost me. So in the discussions right there, they have to correct that. There's got to be some kind of signal that says it's not only good but it's not challengeable or it is. Obviously that didn't cost us the game. But anyway, [it's] something they've got to fix."

RE: Getting back to the field goal challenge, how can they reverse that if there's not a camera at the same place where the referee is? How can you get that reversed?"When he came over, I asked him the same exact question. Other than, can I challenge it? He asked the guy, 'Was it below it?' And they all kind of said it was. But outside of that, I said, 'What views are you going to see? Are they going to be different from what I see?' And he said, 'I'm just going to see what they give me on the monitor.' That was his response. So it's not as if there's a camera, I guess. If there was, he'd have said, 'there was one.' So as the way it's setup now, it's all fine and dandy. Basically what they get to challenge is if you've got a situation like last year where the thing bounces off the cross bar or hits the little machine that's there. Then you get it. Otherwise, it's ineffective. The challenges don't mean anything."

RE: You weren't aware of this before?"You know what? I thought maybe there was something...because I didn't think it was good, to be honest with you. I wanted to hear what he had to say coming over. That's why I also thought that coming over if he said, 'You can't challenge it because it was above the cross bar.' I was going to say, 'Well then I get my challenge back.' But he says, 'No, you're not going to get your challenge back.'"

RE: You mean the upright?"The upright, forgive me."

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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