Baltimore Ravens

Seth Roberts, former Raiders wide receiver, signs contract with Ravens

Seth Roberts, former Raiders wide receiver, signs contract with Ravens

Seth Roberts has found a new home. The former Raiders wide receiver signed a one-year contract with the Ravens on Monday. 

"I'm glad to be a Raven. Can't wait!" Roberts said in a message to Ravens fans. 

Roberts was released by the Raiders on Thursday. The 28-year-old was set to make $4.5 million in 2019, the final year of a three-year deal he signed under former GM Reggie McKenzie. 

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The Raiders signed Roberts in 2014 as an undrafted free agent out of West Alabama University. He didn't play any games that year but became the team's primary slot receiver in 2015. 

Over four seasons with the Raiders, Roberts caught 158 passes for 1,826 yards and 13 touchdowns.

How NFL pass interference rule change could have altered 49ers history

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USATSI

How NFL pass interference rule change could have altered 49ers history

The NFL issued a rule change Tuesday, and New Orleans Saints fans likely are pleased about it.

(Actually, they're probably still quite pissed.)

NFL owners approved a change for at least the 2019 season that will make pass interference -- both offensive and defensive -- a reviewable play. Additionally, coaches will be able to challenge non-calls for pass interference.

The proposed change had significant momentum as a result of the blatant missed pass interference call during the final minutes of the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game that should have given the Saints a first-and-goal opportunity and a chance to go up a touchdown with under two minutes remaining.

Instead, the call was missed, the Saints were forced to kick a field goal, the Los Angeles Rams tied it with 15 seconds remaining in regulation and eventually won in overtime to clinch a trip to Super Bowl LIII. The Saints and the rest of the football world were left wondering how such an obvious penalty could have gone uncalled.

Thus, the rule change. It won't take the sting out of that painful memory for Saints fans, but it will hopefully ensure that such an egregious mistake on the part of the officials doesn't happen again, particularly in such an important moment.

Which brings us to the 49ers. No, a missed pass interference call was not the difference between them making the Super Bowl or not last season. But just like every NFL team, they have both benefitted and been victimized by improperly ruled pass interference calls practically every time they've taken the field.

Some of those instances, however, stick out more than others.

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Here's a look at some memorable plays (in chronological order) from 49ers history that might have turned out differently under the new rule change:

1983 NFC Championship Game

The 49ers were this close to going to the Super Bowl. Then the officials got in the way.

San Francisco led 21-17 over the Redskins late in the fourth quarter, but Washington had the ball at the 49ers' 45-yard-line. Quarterback Joe Theismann launched a deep pass to receiver Art Monk, but 49ers cornerback Eric Wright was in his back pocket. When Monk attempted to catch the ball, Wright did make contact with him, but the ball was so overthrown that it should have been ruled uncatchable.

"It was a ball a 10-foot tall Boston Celtic couldn't catch, let alone a receiver," 49ers coach Bill Walsh complained after the game.

Instead, Wright was called for a pass interference penalty, placing the ball at San Francisco's 18-yard line. That was soon followed by a questionable-at-best holding call on safety Ronnie Lott, setting up Washington kicker Mark Moseley -- who had already missed four kicks on the day -- for a game-winning 25-yard field goal.

Moseley's kick was good, sending Washington to Super Bowl XVII.

2002 NFC Wild Card Game

One of the crazier games in 49ers history came down to the final seconds, and in this case, San Francisco certainly benefitted from a missed pass interference call that could have changed the outcome.

With the 49ers leading 39-38 in the final seconds, the New York Giants botched the snap on a potential game-winning 41-yard field goal attempt. Placeholder Matt Allen gathered the ball, rolled right and hoisted a dead bird towards San Francisco's end zone in desperation. Giants lineman Rich Seubert -- who had correctly reported as an eligible receiver -- appeared to be open.

[WATCH PLAY HERE]

Then 49ers defensive lineman Chike Okeafor hauled Seubert to the ground while the pass was still in the air. Penalty flags were thrown -- but not on Okeafor. Instead, they had ruled another Giants linemen an ineligible receiver. Had Okeafor also been called for a penalty, those would have offset, and the Giants would have had another shot at a field goal.

Instead, the 49ers declined the ineligible receiver penalty, and the game was over. San Francisco then advanced to the NFC Divisional Round, where they were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Days after the Wild Card game, the NFL declared that the officials had missed the pass interference call on Okeafor.

Super Bowl XLVII

The last time the 49ers were in the Super Bowl seems particularly relevant to the new rule change.

San Francisco trailed Baltimore 34-29 with 4:19 left in regulation, but marched to the Ravens' 7-yard line on a 33-yard scamper by running back Frank Gore, giving the 49ers a first-and-goal with a chance to take the lead with a touchdown.

On first down, running back LaMichael James rushed for two yards, pushing the ball to Baltimore's 5-yard line. Then, on second and third down, quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw two incomplete passes intended for receiver Michael Crabtree, setting up fourth-and-goal.

[WATCH PLAY HERE]

Kaepernick went back to the same well on fourth down, but the pass intended for Crabtree in the right corner of the end zone fell incomplete once again, but not without some significant contact from Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith.

"There's no question in my mind that it was a pass interference, and then a hold on Crabtree on the last one," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said following the game.

The officials saw it differently and ruled Smith's contact incidental. The 49ers turned the ball over on downs and never got it back, as the Ravens came away with a controversial Super Bowl victory.

49ers vs. Rams, Week 3, 2017

Controversial pass interference rulings happen during the regular season, too, and 49ers receiver Trent Taylor knows that quite well.

Trailing 41-39 to the rival Rams in the fourth quarter, the 49ers recovered an onside kick, giving them a chance to notch their first victory of the young season. The 49ers gained zero yards on the first two plays leading into the two-minute warning, but on third down, 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer found Taylor on an 11-yard out pattern along the left sideline. Taylor secured the catch, appearing to set the 49ers up with a chance for a game-winning field goal.

The officials, however, threw a flag on Taylor -- all 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds of him -- for offensive pass interference, ruling he pushed off of Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman on his way to making the catch.

The contact was minimal at best -- the kind that happens on every single passing play -- and one has to wonder if it would have been overturned under the new rules.

The penalty moved the 49ers back to the Rams' 40-yard-line, facing a third-and-10. Hoyer then threw an incomplete pass before being sacked by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald on fourth down, clinching the victory for Los Angeles.

The 49ers wouldn't get their first win until Week 10.

NFL rumors: Earl Thomas almost signed one-year contract before Ravens deal

NFL rumors: Earl Thomas almost signed one-year contract before Ravens deal

Earl Thomas is no longer a Seahawk. The three-time All-Pro flapped his wings and flew to Baltimore, where he'll now be a Raven with a deeper back account. 

Thomas signed a hefty four-year, $55 million contract with the Ravens, but even he believed he was headed elsewhere. 

“The Ravens were never in the picture,” Thomas said to NBC Sports' Peter King on Thursday. “I was shocked. I was blessed.” 

King reports Thomas was prepared to accept a one-year, $12 million offer from a different, unknown team. Could that mystery team be the 49ers? 

Ultimately, the contract Thomas signed with the Ravens was too costly for the 49ers. NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco addressed the question in a recent mailbag: With Thomas, the cost of the contract was the turn-off. The 49ers probably were not willing to go beyond the $9 million average they gave Richard Sherman last year.

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While that could easily be the case, perhaps the 49ers were willing to offer a higher average annual value if the contract was for only one year, especially since Thomas was held to four games last season after fracturing his leg against the Cardinals. 

Instead of Thomas taking over as San Francisco's free safety, the 49ers re-signed defensive back Jimmie Ward to a one-year contract. Ward is expected to start alongside a combination of safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Marcell Harris to man the back of the defense.

The 49ers missed out on Thomas, but the good news for them is they'll only face him once as a Raven in 2019, as opposed to twice if he stayed with Seattle.