The San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams met in a high-intensity battle that led to some loud cracks on the field.
Niners linebacker Dre Greenlaw was flagged early for an illegal hit, and it seemed every time Rams corner Jalen Ramsey and 49ers WR Deebo Samuel crossed paths there was some considerable noise.
What may be the most controversial hit of the day though came on San Francisco punter Mitch Wishnowsky. After a less-than-impressive punt, the Rams special teams came his way, with Antoine Brooks Jr. laying the wood on the punter.
Wishnowsky didn’t move far from where he landed, and stayed down for a couple minutes before needing assistance to exit the field. No flag for helmet-to-helmet unnecessary roughness was called. The 49ers would later rule him out with a concussion.
This led to place kicker Robbie Gould taking over punting duties, which is less than ideal. As one might expect, 49ers fans were not pleased with the lack of a yellow flag.
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San Francisco Sounds Off
Some 49ers fans took to tweeting at the NFL’s officiating and health and safety accounts to make their case, while others just let loose however.
“Why wasn’t there a flag on that crazy helmet to helmet on Wishnowsky??? @NFLOfficiating” @Hazelbrook8 tweeted.
How much tagging NFL accounts helps a tweet gets noticed is debatable, but it’s worth the effort for some like @tazionuvo.
“@NFLHealthSafety @NFL #SFvsLAR Brooks’ hit on Wishnowsky was head to head, yes? Why are some head to head hits acceptable?”
Another Niners fan acknowledged that the punter had not been offering much help in the game, but that obviously doesn’t excuse a lack of a flag there.
“He’s been bad but no talk about the helmet to helmet on Wishnowsky,” wrote @sjboland. “Thought that should have been a flag and possible expulsion. Dirty”
The context of Greenlaw’s hit that was properly flagged didn’t help the optics on the situation either for the officiating crew, at least from the 49ers perspective.
“So you’re telling me Dre got an unnecessary roughness call and the player’s fine,” @alexanndralopez said. “Meanwhile Mitch Wishnowsky has a f—ing head injury and the refs didn’t call s–t.. yeah makes sense..”
Last but not least, one neutral viewer called out the commentary crew for not bringing attention to the hit.
49ers Punter Was Playing at Pro Bowl Level Before Sunday
As fans pointed out above, Wishnowsky wasn’t at his best with two punts being returned a fair distance despite traveling a combined total of 85 yards. That average of 42.5 isn’t far behind his yearly average of 45.1, which was good enough to place the punter as a Pro Bowl alternate.
His status for last week’s 23-7 over the Houston Texans was in jeopardy due to testing positive for COVID-19, but he cleared protocols in time.
Concussion protocols are a different story. The 49ers will undoubtedly begin looking around for potential backups should they need one in the playoffs.