Jimmie Ward should have been called for a personal foul penalty on his thunderous hit on Davante Adams in the 49ers' 30-28 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. It's just not the same penalty that many felt was obvious at first sight.
His violent collision with Adams caused the Packers' receiver to remain on the ground for a while before being helped to the blue tent. No penalty flag was thrown. In real-time, it looked like a blatant helmet-to-helmet hit, the exact kind of which the NFL has been trying to eliminate. But as it turned out, it was a textbook hit.
Well, sort of.
After the game, Ward remained steadfast in his belief that it was a clean hit. And replays back that stance. Ward initially makes contact with Adams' midsection using his shoulder. Therefore, not helmet-to-helmet.
"Yeah, I know how to hit pretty good," Ward said after the loss. "Led with my shoulder. There was no flag. I always lead with my shoulder. I've got to watch the hit, but bang-bang play. I'm glad there was no flag. Shoutout to the ref."
Adams' own testimony also supported Ward's account.
"It wasn't a concussion, so I went on the sideline," Adams told reporters after the game. "They evaluated and saw right away, you know, I was straight. It was, more than anything on the ground, it was my chest. I was having trouble catching my breath. But I'm definitely good now."
So, Ward and Adams both indicate the hit was not helmet-to-helmet. Still, though, a flag should have been thrown. Regardless of how Ward hit Adams, he did so while Adams was a defenseless receiver, which should have prompted a personal foul. The 49ers caught a break that Ward wasn't penalized whatsoever, but naturally, they also had some big missed calls go against them.