"It was definitely not a push-off," Graham said. "I'm running down the field telling myself, 'Whatever you do, don't push off.' It's interesting how guys grab me everywhere on the field and I put literally two fingers on somebody and they make that kind of call."Wow Jimmy just up and made his own reference to his basketball career. That seems like it calls for an offensive penalty in and of itself. Still, he's probably right. There are few things in sports more frustrating than seeing a game-deciding play nullified because of a penalty that could have been left alone without any complaint from anyone.
Graham, a 6-foot-7 former college basketball player at Miami, said the call reminded him of his old sport.
"That's why I left basketball," he said.
The real issue here is that pass interference is rarely called on either side during Hail Mary plays, where pushing and shoving are routine.Well, without a complaint from anyone except for the flopping Perrish Cox, I guess. Also the 49ers entire roster and coaching staff who do tend to overplay their sense of entitlement in these cases. But screw them.
In 2012, in fact, an NFL replacement referee said publicly the league trained him not to call offensive pass interference in such instances because "there are a lot of bodies in there, you just let it go."
It's difficult to pinpoint the frequency of similar instances, but here is what ESPN Stats & Information came up with: Since the start of the 2001 season, there have been seven offensive pass interference calls in the final 10 seconds of either half when Hail Marys are likely to have occurred. That's in roughly 3,700 games.
The really painful part of the slideshow and the replay to watch is Kenny Stills' reaction. Stills appears to be the last person in the building to realize that flags have been thrown. You can watch the joy of a last second Hail Mary win well up in him and then evaporate. Up in 617 we saw the flags before we even knew if the ball had been caught. Also we were still a little punch drunk after the 49ers converted a 4th and 10 on the prior possession setting up this situation. So we didn't even have the opportunity to be as excited as Stills was.. if only for a moment. Kind of makes me jealous of him.