Bat by LaMichael James wouldn’t have resulted in a safety
The drive that ended in a game-winning field goal for the 49ers sparked plenty of discussion about Davon House’s near-miss-but-he-was-offside kick block. While not clear during the game broadcast, the officials definitely caught the foul.
They didn’t catch a foul that happened at the beginning of the drive, when the Packers kicked off to the 49ers.
San Francisco kick returner LaMichael James batted the kickoff out of the end zone. Under Rule 12-4-1(b), an illegal bat occurs if “a player of either team bats or punches a loose ball (that has touched the ground) in any direction, if it is in either end zone.”
Some have suggested that the penalty, if called, would have resulted in a safety -- which would have given the Packers two points and would have required the 49ers to punt or kick from their own 20.
While the interpretation of the rule book on the appropriate consequence is too complex for an Internet hack with whom you may be familiar to decipher, a league source tells PFT that the proper interpretation would have been to enforce the 10-yard penalty from the spot of the kickoff.
This means the Packers would have been able to choose between another kick from their own 40, or declining the penalty and having the 49ers start the drive from their 20.
Of course, this assumes that the officiating crew would have made the proper interpretation and enforcement. The rule book, as we try to read it, is sufficiently unclear to possibly allow for a freeze-dried Ed Hochuli (not pictured), who looked like Hannibal Lecter and sounded like Darth Vader on Sunday, to have made a mistake in the heat of the zero-degree moment, awarding the Packers two points and requiring the 49ers to kickoff.
So maybe it’s good they missed it, if the proper enforcement would have resulted in the Packers most likely declining the penalty.