Mike Zimmer was not pleased with the officiating in the Vikings' 34-26 loss to the 49ers on Sunday, and he made his thoughts very clear in his postgame presser.
"These guys hold all the time," Zimmer said, regarding his defense getting gashed for over 200 rushing yards in the defeat. "So they’re grabbing us around the waist, grabbing our backs. The officials, they don’t want to call it on every play, but until they start calling it on every play, they’re not gonna stop doing it."
Zimmer didn't single out any specific plays, but for example, it looked like the 49ers may have gotten away with at least one hold on their first touchdown of the game, a 20-yard run by Deebo Samuel.
“Refs let us play all day," said Eric Kendricks, who was begging for a holding call on George Kittle after that play. "So it is what it is."
Zimmer went to talk to the refs after that touchdown, too.
That was just the beginning of several questionable calls going against the Vikings in this game.
Late in the second quarter, Patrick Peterson was called for holding Kittle on an unsuccessful third and long for the 49ers. Instead of a defensive stand for the Vikings, the drive continued — and resulted in a touchdown that tied the game at 14 and started a major momentum swing that continued into the second half.
“I heard the guy ran into Peterson," Zimmer said. "I didn’t see it. I’m watching the other stuff. But, yeah. I better stop with the officials today."
Fast forward to the final drive of the game. After the Vikings had gotten the ball to the San Francisco 40-yard line trailing by eight points, they faced a third-and-eight with less than a minute to play. Kirk Cousins tried to find K.J. Osborn, but the pass fell incomplete as K'Waun Williams made a play on the ball. However, it definitely looked like there was some contact made before the ball got there.
“Yeah, I thought he hooked [Osborn]," Zimmer said. "I thought the defender hooked him."
I want to make two important disclaimers. One is that missed calls go both ways, and there were probably moments where the Vikings held on Nick Bosa and it wasn't called or otherwise benefited from the officiating. The second is that the referees weren't the reason the Vikings lost. They lost because they couldn't stop the run, gave up several big pass plays on third and long, turned the ball over twice deep in their own territory, and their offense couldn't capitalize on several late opportunities.
With all that said, let's run through a few more calls that hurt the Vikings.
- In the third quarter, Deebo Samuel blatantly tugged on Bashaud Breeland's jersey to prevent an interception. No OPI was called, and the 49ers kicked a field goal to go up 31-20. The Vikings did return the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but still, look:
- Early in the fourth quarter, Cousins threw an incomplete pass towards Adam Thielen. Upon review, it seemed pretty clear that Thielen had his hands underneath the ball the entire time for a spectacular catch. Thielen was adamant that he caught it, and Zimmer threw the challenge flag. But for whatever reason, the ruling on the field of incomplete stood upon review.
- Lastly, this sure looked like unnecessary roughness from 49ers cornerback Josh Norman on Adam Thielen early in the fourth quarter. There was no call.
Again, the refs weren't the reason the Vikings lost this game. But that's six plays that I just went through where the officiating hurt them. It's enough to make everyone from Vikings fans to Zimmer himself a little frustrated after a tough loss.
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