San Francisco 49ers

More cameras among NFL rule-change proposals

Somewhere in this pile of football players is Colin Kaepernick. The controversy was whether he had the ball when he crossed the goal line.
Somewhere in this pile of football players is Colin Kaepernick. The controversy was whether he had the ball when he crossed the goal line. The Bee

“I know I crossed the line,” Colin Kaepernick insisted after the 49ers’ controversial 13-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 2.

Unfortunately, the quarterback was the only one with an unambiguous take on the game’s decisive play, one in which Kaepernick tried to sneak the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard line with nine seconds to play.

Did he fumble with Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis coming up with the ball, as officials ruled? Or did he break the plane of the goal line and score a touchdown before the ball came loose, as Kaepernick asserted?

A new rule proposal would give officials more looks at the sequence. One of the 23 possible tweaks to the NFL rulebook the league’s owners will consider this week calls for fixed cameras on the goal line, end lines and sidelines that would augment the cameras used by networks.

The New England Patriots submitted the proposal as they did in 2008 and last year. Coach Bill Belichick’s interest in fixed cameras dates back to the 2005 playoffs when Denver cornerback Champ Bailey was caught from behind on a long interception return and the ball was poked free, possibly through the end zone, which would have given New England possession. There was no decisive camera angle, however, and the Broncos kept that ball.

Would a goal-line camera have provided clarity to the fuzzy ending of the 49ers-Rams game? It’s hard to say. The tangle of bodies on the goal-line scrum was the reason officials couldn’t overturn the ruling on the field.

“On the last play, it went into a pile, and there was nothing we could see that could change the ruling on the field,” referee Jerome Boger said after the game.

Other rule-change proposals include a creative one from the Indianapolis Colts that calls for a potential nine-point play. That would involve a team making a two-point conversion following a touchdown and then being allowed to attempt a “bonus” extra point from 50 yards out.

Another Patriots proposal would push point-after-attempts to the 15-yard line with two-point conversions remaining at the 2-yard line. Neither the Colts nor the Patriots’ points-after-touchdown proposals are likely to pass.

Most of the other items involve replay review.

The Patriots want to make all plays reviewable while the Detroit Lions would like to see all penalties reviewable. Tennessee and Washington were a bit less ambitious with their proposal. They’d like personal-foul calls to be subject to replay review.

All of those replay proposals seem like long shots, and teams ought to know that they usually don’t win even when they are given an opportunity to challenge a call on the field.

According to the NFL, only 124 of the 348 plays challenged last year – including playoffs and preseason – were overturned, a success rate of 35.63 percent. Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers were 1 for 10 on challenges.

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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