With San Francisco leading New Orleans 20-17 with 3:17 remaining on the clock, 49ers’ linebacker Ahmad Brooks sacked Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees and forced a fumble. San Francisco recovered, but a subsequent penalty for “unnecessary roughness” was called and New Orleans went down and kicked a field goal to tie it, and eventually kicked the game-winner as time expired.
Brooks may or may not have maliciously hit Brees — depending on who you ask — in the neck/head area in a play that has been hotly debated throughout the media and by Saints’ and 49ers’ fans alike in the weeks that have followed.
He was fined $15,750 by the NFL for the play.
Well, according to CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, that fine has been overturned on appeal.
From the CSN Bay Area report:
Brooks appealed the fine during a hearing over the phone with appeals officer Matt Birk, who retired this year after a 14-season NFL as a center. He declined further comment.
San Francisco sits at 11-4 on the season, one game back of the 12-3 Seattle Seahawks. While it’s impossible to say what may have happened if the play wasn’t penalized and the 49ers retained possession in that week 11 game, what is possible is to say where San Francisco would be if they held on to their lead.
If the 49ers win this week and Seattle loses, San Francisco will claim the NFC West title and a first round bye in the playoffs. Due to their better record against the division – San Francisco is 4-1 against the West, Seattle is 3-2 – the 49ers wouldn’t need a Seattle loss against the St. Louis Rams this Sunday to lay claim to that fate.