Referee admits error favoring 49ers

September, 23, 2012
9/23/12
6:12
PM ET
Cameras showed San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh berating officials regularly during the team's game Sunday.

Harbaugh owed them a thank-you card by game's end.

Check out Kevin Seifert's item for a full explanation.

Basically, officials incorrectly restored the 49ers' final timeout, enabling Harbaugh to issue a replay challenge. The challenge was successful and could have become a big story had the 49ers won the game. Anyone watching the game had to know officials were likely making a mistake. There was no explanation from the referee at the time, however. Now, there is.

"He was trying to conserve time," the referee said. "What he was doing was calling timeout immediately after the play was over, not knowing what the result of the play was, whether it was a challengeable play or whether it was not a challengeable play. So he called a timeout immediately after the play was over. Then realizing that, 'Hey this is something that I want to challenge, but I just used my last timeout, can I challenge and get my timeout back? How does that work?' "

This marks the second time in 2012 that a replacement official has incorrectly restored an NFC West team's final timeout. It happened for Seattle during the closing seconds of a defeat at Arizona in Week 1.

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