NFC West: Garth DeFelice

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The St. Louis Rams are putting on the pads for their Saturday scrimmage in the Edward Jones Dome. This will be the second time during training camp the Rams have worn not only shoulder pads but also the hip, knee, thigh and tail pads mandated for games under a new NFL rule, a change coach Jeff Fisher called no big deal.

"We've had them on once and it was no big deal with anybody," Fisher said, "so we'll have them on [Saturday] and then we'll have them on the third time for the real deal -- the preseason game."

While putting on pads would seem like a logical move in a contact sport, some players are rolling their eyes. San Francisco 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin is one of them. I caught up with him at training camp recently and he said he's never worn leg pads in 10 NFL seasons.

"If guys want to wear pads, fine, but I don’t think it should be mandatory," Boldin said. "I think the NFL is doing it just to cover their butts. It is what it is."

An officiating crew led by umpire Garth DeFelice has been monitoring the 49ers' practices and providing tips on rules. However, game officials won't be the ones inspecting uniforms. They won't say anything if they see a player without pads. Instead, a league-hired inspector assigned to each stadium will monitor players and report violations to the officiating crew.

"Let's say the Rams come here to play," DeFelice said. "[The inspector] is going to look and say, 'No. 27 doesn't have knee pads. Make him put them in.' So, we're going to go to 27 and say, 'Get out, you have no knee pads.' That's all we're going to do."

If the player returns to the game without pads and the inspector informs officials of the violation, the crew will assess a 5-yard penalty. Another violation in the same game would lead to a player ejection.

Note: I'll be traveling home Saturday, processing interviews and working on the "Camp Confidential" file for the 49ers, currently set for Sunday. Have a great day.

What to know on Seahawks, referee issue

September, 15, 2011
News that Bill Leavy will be working the Seattle Seahawks' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers should come with some fine print:
  • Leavy and line judge Mark Perlman are the only holdovers from the crew that ticked off the Seahawks so badly with its officiating in Super Bowl XL following the 2005 season. The chart shows Leavy's crew for the Super Bowl and his crew for the Cincinnati-Cleveland game he worked in Week 1 this season.
  • Given the fallout over officiating in the Super Bowl, the league had no good reason for assigning Leavy to another Seahawks-Steelers game. Leavy has worked a Seattle game subsequently and it's only fair for every team to draw from the same group of referees. But why this game? This had to reflect an oversight at the officiating office, one the league couldn't very well undo once news of Leavy's assignment got out.
  • Leavy himself made two of the calls against Seattle in the Super Bowl. He called holding against tackle Sean Locklear, a call for which he apologized even though the officiating office did not grade him down for this specific call. Leavy also made the obviously incorrect call against quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for a low block.
  • Perlman, as line judge, made the call allowing Ben Roethlisberger's 1-yard touchdown run. The Seahawks felt as though Roethlisberger did not score on the play. Perlman will be serving in the same capacity Sunday if Leavy brings his Week 1 crew to Pittsburgh.
  • The back judge in the Super Bowl, Bob Waggoner, made the call for offensive interference against Seahawks receiver Darrell Jackson, negating a touchown that would have given Seattle a 7-0 lead.
  • Leavy met with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and staff last season at team headquarters, delivering an annual officiating presentation. Officials brief reporters separately during these visits to training camps. Leavy apologized for Super Bowl officiating errors during the media session.
  • Cornerback Marcus Trufant and linebacker Leroy Hill are the only current Seattle players who were on the roster for the Super Bowl. This would be a much bigger deal if Mike Holmgren were still coaching the Seahawks. Carroll has less reason to care.

The differentiation between Leavy's Super Bowl crew and his likely crew for Week 2 seemed important. Leavy's assignment to the game Sunday struck a nerve with some fans I've heard from. I'd call it an honest oversight strengthening perceptions among West Coast teams that the NFL isn't particularly sensitive to their concerns on such matters.

NFC West Penalty Watch: Ejection notes

December, 17, 2010
Justin Smith's disqualification from the San Francisco 49ers' game against San Diego on Thursday night marked the first for an NFC West player since 2005.

Officials ejected Damione Lewis, then with the St. Louis Rams, from a 2005 game. Two more Rams, Tommy Polley and Orlando Pace, suffered ejections in 2004.

No other players have suffered disqualifications for current NFC West teams since at least 2001, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

A quick look at NFC West disqualifications since 2001:
  • Smith, 2010, Week 15: The 49ers' defensive end shoved umpire Garth DeFelice's arm away while DeFelice separated players following a play. Smith said he didn't realize it was an official making contact with him.
  • Lewis, 2005, Week 7: Replays showed the defensive tackle punching New Orleans center LeCharles Bentley in the groin area during the Rams' 28-17 victory over the Saints.
  • Pace, 2004, Week 10: Pace made contact with side judge Don Carlsen during a fracas involving Rams and Seattle Seahawks players. The Rams won the game, 23-12.
  • Polley, 2004, Week 15: Polley shoved Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Russell Davis in the face while Davis was standing on the sideline without his helmet during the fourth quarter. Trash talk escalated when Davis tapped Polley's helmet.

These were the only four ejections I could find by searching for fouls listed as disqualifications.

I recall Cardinals offensive lineman Elton Brown drawing an ejection for bumping an official during a 2009 exhibition game. Back in 1998, officials ejected 49ers defensive lineman Bryant Young for twice retaliating against allegedly dirty tactics used by Kyle Turley, then with the Saints.