NFC West: Bill Romanowski

Better hand Randy Moss a butterfly net

February, 5, 2013
Four-time Super Bowl winner Bill Romanowski blasted San Francisco 49ers receiver Randy Moss for showing "alligator arms" on the pass Baltimore intercepted in the second quarter Sunday. Upon review, I don't think Moss could have caught that pass with a butterfly net.

Camera angles sometimes distort the actual height of a pass, but replays available for this one show the ball sailing over Moss' head by a wide enough margin to render the receiver's reaction irrelevant to the play. The alligator-arms theory breaks down further in the absence of an imminent threat to Moss from an approaching defender. Moss never retracted his arms or flinched as if to protect himself.

Dwight Clark, who retired from the 49ers one year before Romanowski joined the team in 1988, acknowledged this aspect of the play. But in comments Clark made with Romanowski on a Comcast postgame show, the former receiver said he wanted to see at least some effort from Moss for effort's sake.

"He didn't even reach up for it," Clark said. "He watched it sail over his head. Yes, it was high. Kaepernick was a little nervous. ... But make some kind of movement for the ball."

Clark might have a point there. The appearance of effort can positively shape perceptions. But it's not like Moss showed up Kaepernick, either. He didn't shrug or point fingers.

In the big picture, I wouldn't hold this play against Moss to the degree Romanowski and Clark did, even if emotional postgame reactions from players associated with the 49ers' championship history is understandable.

Around the NFC West: Two strong takes

February, 5, 2013
Good morning. The NFL offseason is officially here, but the San Francisco 49ers' experience in Super Bowl XLVII will remain a topic for discussion this week, I am sure.

We've got some strong takes to run through this morning.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune thinks the Super Bowl officials messed up royally by failing to call holding against Baltimore's Jimmy Smith on the 49ers' final offensive play.

"Analysts have argued that the refs won’t make that call in a game-deciding situation, or that the contact was mutual and that sort of thing had been tolerated throughout," he writes. "But when a defender is going Greco-Roman on a receiver, and has such a grasp that the jersey is being pulled, it should be a penalty at any point in the game."

You'll be likely to agree if you watch the play enough times in slow motion. I thought throwing a flag would have been worse than not throwing one, but if the NFL were to study that play outside its dramatic context -- essentially treating it as though it were a play from a preseason game as opposed to one potentially deciding a Super Bowl -- would the league consider that a penalty or not?

I'm also interested in revisiting the interception 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw. Retired linebacker Bill Romanowski called out receiver Randy Moss for failing to make sufficient effort on the play. I saw the play live, but with travel considerations, I wasn't able to watch the game closely on replay. I'll have a chance now.

Linebackers such as Romanowski don't always sympathize with receivers such as Moss. I'll study that play realizing Romanowski probably expects receivers to play the way linebackers play. Most of them do not.

A young Bill Romanowski famously infuriated teammate Harris Barton and others by taking undue shots at Jerry Rice during San Francisco 49ers practices.

With that in mind, it should come as no shock to hear that an opponent might have slapped a bounty on Romanowski's head back when NFL mayhem went largely unregulated.

That doesn't mean it happened.

To review, Cris Carter says Romanowski threatened to injure him early in a game.

Carter says he bought protection for himself by offering free dinners for offensive linemen if they could get him through the game unscathed.

It's the latest opportunity to misapply the word "bounty" to an NFL scenario, and it's predictably happening.

Carter's comments have brought Romanowski, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the 49ers, back into the news as a corollary to the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal. I'm struggling to see the connection. How about you?

Offering cash for intentionally inflicting injuries on specific players bears little relation to one teammate looking out for another in the manner Carter described.

While Romanowski has denied he made injury threats, Carter would have been justified taking seriously any promises Romanowski might have made.

Romanowski's reputation as a dirty player had roots in his days with San Francisco. "Romo" left little doubt through subsequent actions while with Denver and Oakland, including the time he spit in J.J. Stokes' face and attacked teammate Marcus Williams.