Explanation after blocked punt was good call on bad rule

Harbaugh: Special teams shined vs. Seahawks

Explanation after blocked punt was good call on bad rule
December 9, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Kassim Osgood, left, collides with Seahawks kicker Jon Ryan, right, after Osgood blocked Ryan's punt in the first half. (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO – Referee Clete Blakeman, whose crew has been in the spotlight in recent weeks, got it right on Sunday with the enforcement of a penalty after a blocked punt.

The sequence in the 49ers' 19-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks can best be described as a good ruling on a bad rule.

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Kassim Osgood managed to break through the Seahawks’ line and block Jon Ryan’s punt. Chris Maragos, who whiffed on the block attempt, tracked down the ball at the sideline and batted it down the field 17 yards.

Maragos was flagged for “illegal bat.” And Blakeman correctly explained the situation to 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

“It was not a loss-of-down penalty,” Harbaugh said. “It’s different than kicking. Kicking is a loss-of-down penalty. Batting is treated like any other penalty. If you take the penalty, you replay the down. So the options were take the ball where it lied at the end of the play or take the penalty and re-punt.”

The 49ers declined the penalty and took over at the 34-yard line. After failing to pick up a first down, the 49ers settled for Phil Dawson’s 48-yard field goal.

Obviously, this is a rule that should be addressed in the offseason when changes are considered. Certainly, Harbaugh agreed that it seems “odd” that a team can reap an immediate advantage by breaking the rules.

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“It does, that you could benefit from a foul,” he said. “I don’t think anybody wants that. So, a solution, possibly, is treat it like the ball was kicked. And kicking and batting would be the same – a loss of down. But that’s for the Competition Committee to decide.”

Blakeman and his crew were in the news in recent weeks. The crew picked up a flag for an apparent pass-interference in the end zone on the final play of Carolina’s victory over New England. And on Thanksgiving night, they failed to penalize Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin for obstructing a play along the sideline against Baltimore.

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