San Francisco 49ers (6-4) fans across the world watching Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints (8-2) had quite the gut wrenching moment late in the final quarter.
Linebacker Ahmad Brooks seemingly sacked Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees for a big loss and subsequent fumble that the 49ers recovered. Had the play stood, it may have given the 49ers a much-needed win and morale boost.
It didn’t, and Brooks was called for a 15-yard penalty for hitting the All Pro QB in the head area. Replays showed the call to be questionable.
“I felt like I hit him with my chest, like I basically bear-hugged him kind of hard,” Brooks said according to Matt Maiocco at CSN Bay Area.
On the play, it appeared as if Brees were just an inch or two taller the fumble would have stood and controversy would have been averted.
“I’m going full speed and he (Brees) is going full speed,” Brooks said. “And at the last second, he ducked his shoulder. So I don’t think I could’ve done anything differently.
“I maybe could’ve tackled him lower, but I’m running around the edge and turning the corner, and I’m trying to get to him and then I’m trying to knock the ball out of hands because I’m thinking he’s trying to throw the ball.”
The play was by no means dirty, just a defender going hard and trying to tackle a quarterback. But in this day and age in the NFL that doesn’t matter: getting anywhere near a quarterback’s head is going to draw a flag – for better or worse.