Another Primetime NFL Game, Another Weak Roughing The Passer, This One Costs 49ers Pick-Six

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Is it a day that ends in “Y” where the NFL is playing football games? If so, then it’s almost certainly a day in which there’s a questionable roughing the passer penalty. Thursday Night Football between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks provided the latest example.

With the 49ers leading 21-3, Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith threw a pick-six that pretty much would have sealed the game. Early in the third quarter, right after San Francisco scored on offense to open the three-score lead, the 49ers should have taken a four-score lead.

But, it was not to be after Nick Bosa was called for roughing the passer.

Literally four days ago, I sat at my computer and typed these words:

“Instead, the refs threw a very late flag on the tackle and called roughing the passer. Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth, on the call for NBC, seemed confused by the foul and suggested that maybe it was the “body weight” rule?

“Basically, a defender must try to avoid landing on the quarterback when making a hit. That, as you can imagine, can be quite difficult at full speed while trying to bring down another grown man.”

Al Michaels might have complained about the call, but we all know he stopped paying attention to these games months ago.

But that paragraph from four days ago almost perfectly applies once again here. What is Nick Bosa supposed to do? The hit isn’t late. He aims for Smith’s midsection. He doesn’t lead with his helmet.

It’s a perfect tackle that every peewee coach in America would show to his kids and say “that’s how you tackle.”

49ers defender Nick Bosa with a perfect form tackle on Seahawks QB Geno Smith comes with a roughing the passer penalty on Thursday Night Football.
49ers defender Nick Bosa with a perfect form tackle on Seahawks QB Geno Smith comes with a roughing the passer penalty on Thursday Night Football. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images)

Except, now those coaches have to explain that’s how you tackle … unless you’re trying to bring down the quarterback. In that case, you need to gently lay him upon the ground. Or, better yet, just don’t hit him at all.

The NFL has to do something. Again, I literally wrote this four days ago. But I’m running out of ways to do this, so I’ll just post it again:

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a game earlier this season on a similarly soft call.

There was also the play where Chiefs defender Chris Jones got called for roughing the passer while actually holding the football. That was a new one.

Then there was Giants Dexter Lawrence taking an egregious roughing call.

At some point, something has to give. C’mon NFL.

“Take off the dresses,” Troy Aikman said earlier this year.

Gotta agree with him there.


Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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