Leading Off: Are referees playing too big of a role in NFL games?

This, that and the other thing:

• Football, especially the NFL, is becoming much like boxing. Teams need to knock their opponent out for the unquestioned victory instead of allowing the officials to help determine the victor.

The 49ers believe they had victory within their reach late in the game in New Orleans when Ahmad Brooks sacked Saints quarterback Drew Brees, whose fumble was recovered by San Francisco. Instead, Brooks was called for hitting Brees in the neck area and the Saints marched down the field for the game-tying field goal. Another field goal gave them the win.

The Patriots lost Monday night’s game at Carolina when referees picked up a flag in the end zone on the final play after New England tight end Rob Gronkowski was clearly held and had no chance to make an attempt to catch Tom Brady’s pass, which was intercepted. While the referees offered the Patriots no explanation, the ruling was that Brady’s pass was uncatchable.

The two well-played games’ outcomes were affected by a questionable call and a non-call. Instead of talking about great games, we’re talking about terrible officiating.

• Unless Tim Hudson can hit with power and play the outfield on days he’s not pitching, the Giants still have a lot of work to do this offseason to fill the holes that caused them to sink to the bottom of the National League West standings in 2013. Still, signing the 38-year-old veteran will improve the Giants’ staff for two years, and his presence around young pitchers beginning to filter into the bigs at the end of the 2014 season will be a bonus.

• Donte Whitner’s request to have his last name changed to Hitner will have to wait until after the season, when he can be present before a judge in Ohio. Until then, he’ll be the charter member of the 49ers’ No-Name Defense.

• Sacramento State and coach Marshall Sperbeck take a three-game losing streak against UC Davis into Saturday’s 60th Causeway Classic at Hornet Stadium. While Sac State alums have grown to accept five- to six-win seasons, Hornets fans cringe at the thought of losing the one game that matters most.

– Victor Contreras

What to watch

NBA, Kings at Phoenix,

6 p.m., CSNCA: The Kings’ last road win came in March against the Suns.

Today’s poll

Are NFL referees playing too big of a role in outcome of games?

• Yes, it seems that way.

• No, better team always wins.

Vote above, or go to

Tuesday’s results

Should teams at

any level use Native

American mascots?

• Yes, carry on

tradition: 80%

• No, it’s too

insensitive: 20%

Total votes: 181