Did the 49ers get away with obvious penalty on Christian McCaffrey TD?

The San Francisco 49ers took a 10-0 lead in Super Bowl LVIII against the Kansas City Chiefs with a double-pass touchdown to Christian McCaffrey, but should it have been a penalty?

Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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The San Francisco 49ers came to Las Vegas ready to gamble. The 49ers' offense attacked the Kansas City Chiefs' defense with an aggressive offensive approach during the first half of Super Bowl LVIII. Quarterback Brock Purdy nearly connected on two deep balls to wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.

Then, San Francisco made a big gamble in Las Vegas.

During the second quarter, head coach Kyle Shanahan dialed up a double-pass trick play that saw Purdy toss a wide receiver screen to Jauan Jennings, who then tossed the ball across the field to running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey snatched the ball and jetted into the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown. It was a risky throw, but Shanahan's gamble in Las Vegas paid off and San Francisco took a 10-0 lead.

Was there a missed penalty on Christian McCaffrey's touchdown catch?

Some observers believed the officiating crew missed a penalty. During halftime, Boomer Esiason claimed that the officiating crew missed an ineligible player downfield call on center Jake Brendel. The penalty would have erased McCaffrey's touchdown and set the 49ers offense back on 2nd & 15.

The officials, however, got it right. Brendel was not illegally downfield at the time of Jenning's pass, despite what Esiason said.

According to Rule 8, Section 3, Article 1 of the NFL Rulebook, an ineligible player downfield penalty is called when a forward pass is thrown while an ineligible receiver is beyond the line of scrimmage without blocking at the time of the pass. The ineligible receiver is allowed a one-yard buffer zone beyond the line of scrimmage.

"On a scrimmage play during which a legal forward pass is thrown, an ineligible offensive player, including a T-formation quarterback, is not permitted to move more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage before the pass has been thrown."

An ineligible player downfield penalty is called when a forward pass is thrown while an ineligible receiver is beyond the line of scrimmage without blocking at the time of the pass. The ineligible receiver is allowed a one-yard buffer zone beyond the line of scrimmage. Officials tend to be lenient with this rule and allow receivers to be up to three yards past the line of scrimmage.

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