Three questionable, missed calls that hurt 49ers in 2020 Super Bowl loss

Three questionable, missed calls that hurt 49ers in 2020 Super Bowl loss

If the 49ers are going to point the finger, they must first point it at themselves.

When you have a 10-point lead with less than 12 minutes remaining in the Super Bowl -- with the ball, no less -- you have to finish. San Francisco didn't, left the door open for Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, and ultimately fell short of its sixth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.

However, the 49ers weren't the only ones that screwed up. At various points throughout Super Bowl LIV, the officials made some questionable calls at critical moments, and the majority of them seemed to work against the 49ers. Perhaps if those calls go a different way, there's a different Super Bowl champion.

Sour grapes? Sure. But based on the following three plays, it's tough to deny that San Francisco got the short end of the stick in the biggest game of the year.

So soft

The first critical moment in question occurred late in the first half. The 49ers decided not to call a timeout ahead of a Kansas City punt, leaving them 80 yards away from the end zone with 59 seconds remaining in the second quarter. San Francisco appeared to gain a huge chunk of that yardage on an absolute dime from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to tight end George Kittle, which took the Niners down to Kansas City's 13-yard-line -- only it was not to be.

Kittle was called for offensive pass interference, negating the play, and the 49ers went into halftime with the score tied 10-10.

Was it pass interference? That all depends on which games you have watched this NFL season -- and which segments of those contests, at that. There has been absolutely zero consistency with the offensive pass interference determination this season; the very same play is being called both ways.

But, this is the Super Bowl. To call that on Kittle for such minimal contact at such a critical moment, we should have seen several more offensive pass interference calls throughout the game for any sort of hand-fighting. But did we?

Nope. None.

Right or wrong, I'm not entirely sure. But one thing I'm positive about: That was a Charmin-soft call.

A two-fer

This one might be the worst.

With just under nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the 49ers faced a third-and-14 from their own 34-yard-line while still holding the 10-point advantage. The Chiefs arguably committed not one, but two penalties on the play, both of which occurred either before or after the ball was in play. Neither were called.

First, before the ball was snapped, Chiefs defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon clearly jumped offsides. I mean, just look. It's not even close.

How the officials can miss that, I have absolutely no idea. Of course, they made it worse by missing a second call several seconds later. Garoppolo was forced to the outside -- possibly related to Kpassagnon's early jump -- and was limited to a 3-yard rush on third down. However, he already was out of bounds when hit by a Chiefs defender, right in front of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

For a league that is supposed to be protecting quarterbacks at all costs, that was an obvious late-hit penalty, which would have given San Francisco an automatic first down. And yet, no call. Shanahan rightfully was livid.

[RELATED: Shanahan now part of two largest-blown Super Bowl leads]

Minutes later, this obvious helmet-to-helmet contact by Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann while blitzing Garoppolo also went uncalled. Well done, guys

Pick one, any one

Holding. It happens on every play. But some violations clearly are more extreme than others, and those are the ones that should be called. You can't expect the officials to catch all of them. But an entire game without a holding call? Against the 49ers' vaunted defensive line?

You could point to numerous instances in which the Chiefs should have been called for holding, but the blatant holding by Kansas City left tackle Eric Fisher on 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa late in the fourth quarter probably was the one that hurt San Francisco the most, due to the outcome of that play.

Facing a third-and-15 from his own 35-yard line, Mahomes bought some time and launched a 44-yard completion to receiver Tyreek Hill to move into 49ers territory. Of course, he was only able to buy that time because Fisher wrapped both arms around Bosa's bellybutton as the rookie was closing in for a sack.


Obviously, the officials missed it, and it turned out to be a huge missed call, as the long completion seemed to get the Chiefs back on track. Four plays later, Travis Kelce's touchdown reception pulled Kansas City within three points at 20-17.

San Francisco went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, and the Chiefs came right back with another touchdown to take the lead for good. It's not as if the 49ers executed well down the stretch, but one wonders if they would have been in a different position had any of those game-changing calls gone their way.

49ers' Arik Armstead ignores critics of speaking up on social issues

49ers' Arik Armstead ignores critics of speaking up on social issues

Arik Armstead doesn't want to hear it.

The 49ers defensive lineman spoke to Sactown Magazine for its July/August issue, and says that if you're not willing to listen to his dialogue off the field about social issues affecting our country, he doesn't want you tuning in to watch him and his teammates dominate on the field.

“If you don’t want me speaking out against racism and social issues and social injustices, then don’t watch me play on Sundays," Armstead said. "Can’t have a piece of me and not all of me.”

Armstead also joined NBC Sports Bay Area's "Race In America" series a few weeks ago, and spoke about the pain he felt seeing video of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police Custody.

"Like, why do I have to continue -- why do we have to continue to see people that look like us get murdered on social media and on the TV?" Armstead told Logan Murdock and Monte Poole on  "Race In America: A Candid Conversation." " ... I'm on Instagram, and I just got to see another Black person get killed unjustly."

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

The 26-year-old also discussed a time when he was racially profiled by local police near a friend's house in Elk Grove.

“A cop gets behind us, pulls us over,” Armstead recalls. “‘What y’all doing? Where y’all going?’”

[RELATED: Colin Kaepernick, Nate Boyer helped enact real change with discussion]

The officer then made Armstead and his friends prove that they knew the people whose house they were traveling to, by bringing the cop with them to the front door and having the friend explain that he was acquainted with Armstead.

Armstead has made it clear he won't be staying silent or "sticking to sports." For those who don't want to hear Armstead's voice on these issues, don't expect him to care whether you watch him play on Sundays.

See Joe Staley's motivational IG message for 49ers' Kendrick Bourne

See Joe Staley's motivational IG message for 49ers' Kendrick Bourne

Joe Staley long has been a model of consistency for the 49ers, spending the past 12 seasons protecting a myriad of 49ers quarterbacks as San Francisco's starting left tackle.

Staley's younger teammates held so much respect for him, as you could see from the many who spoke publicly in the wake of Staley's retirement back in April.

It appears even in retirement Staley continues to inspire his former teammates, as 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne shared an Instagram direct message from Staley on Sunday morning.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"Never lose sight of the goal. The ring," Staley wrote to Bourne. "That's all that matters in what we do. I never got it. You. Mr KB!! Go get it!! F-----g GET IT!! Make me proud bro. I love watching your hustle. All love."

Staley was responding to a video Bourne had posted of some of the hardware he's earned over his football career, including one of the game balls from the 49ers' blowout Week 8 win over the Carolina Panthers.

[RELATED: Why 49ers should explore David Njoku trade with Browns after demand]

Bourne and the 49ers came so close to helping Staley capture that elusive championship ring, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied from a 10-point deficit to stun San Francisco at Super Bowl LIV.

The 49ers won the offseason in the eyes of some pundits around the league, and appear primed for another deep postseason run. It'll be up to Bourne, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and the rest of the 49ers' talented roster to finish the job if they can get back to the Super Bowl.