clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

49ers vs. Rams: Controversial safety call explained

Referee Carl Cheffers explains the intentional grounding penalty against Colin Kaepernick which led to a St. Louis Rams safety.


An intentional grounding penalty against Colin Kaepernick resulted in a safety and two crucial points for the St. Louis Rams, who forced overtime before beating the San Francisco 49ers on a field goal. The penalty was controversial because it appeared to Kaepernick and the 49ers that the ball reached the line of scrimmage, which referee Carl Cheffers disputes.

"It was an intentional grounding," Cheffers told a pool reporter after the game. "The quarterback rolled out of the pocket and he needs one of two things: He either needs a receiver in the area or he needs to throw the ball beyond the line of scrimmage.

"The official on that side of the field came to me and reported that neither of those things took place.

While San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh disagreed, he couldn't challenge the call because the penalty was based on judgement, Cheffers said. Despite it resulting in a safety, the call is also not reviewable like all scoring plays because it was the penalty that led to the safety and not a play.

Even though the 49ers still held a 10-2 lead after the ruling, the call looms larger in hindsight because the Rams were able to force overtime and win.

The contest nearly ended in a second tie between the two teams had it not been for Greg Zuerlein's 54-yard kick with 26 remaining in overtime.