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Former NFL Referee Weighs In on Intentional Grounding Non-Call

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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Did the officials bail out the San Francisco 49ers at the end of the first half of Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers.

On second-and-goal from the 1 with 7 seconds remaining, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had nobody open when he was nailed by outside linebacker Preston Smith. Garoppolo’s throw went right into the turf behind the line of scrimmage. No receiver was in the vicinity but intentional grounding was not called.

The 49ers scored on the next play, a 1-yard run by backup quarterback Trey Lance, to cut Green Bay’s lead to 17-7 at halftime.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur was irate as the teams walked to the locker room, with NBC’s cameras catching LaFleur blaming the officials for giving the 49ers seven points.

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Was he right?

Here’s what Terry McAuley, NBC’s rules expert and the referee for three Super Bowls, said via a Twitter direct message:

“Garoppolo was hit about the time his hand started forward,” he wrote. “If the hit occurs before the hand starts forward, there is no foul. If it’s after the hand starts forward, then he has to get the ball in the vicinity of an eligible receiver. It is extremely close as to which happened first. In real time, no doubt they ruled the hand moved forward, thus no foul.”

The 49ers continued the momentum by scoring on the first possession after halftime to make it 17-14. And that’s where the score stands heading into the final 15 minutes.