San Francisco 49ers

League approves ‘Bowman rule’ following error in NFC Championship Game

If you were one of the thousands of 49ers fans screaming for a replay review on NaVorro Bowman’s obvious fumble recovery in the NFC Championship, your pleas have finally been heard. The NFL owners Wednesday passed the so-called “Bowman rule,” which will allow reviews on loose-ball scrambles like Bowman’s against Seattle.

Although replays clearly showed Bowman, who suffered a grisly knee injury on the play, stripped the ball from a Seahawks receiver, then was down by contact with the ball in his grasp, officials ruled Seattle recovered. Coach Jim Harbaugh was unable to challenge the play. The 49ers voted in favor of the measure at the owners meeting.

Centralized replay reviews, which will allow officials to consult with the league’s officiating command center in New York, also passed. The 49ers also voted in favor of that.

“Hopefully, it speeds up the time of the review,” Harbaugh said Wednesday. “Hopefully, it gets (reviews) right better.”

Also passed Wednesday: a proposal to raise the height of the uprights by 5 feet to eliminate tough-to-judge kicks that sail over the uprights. The league’s owners tabled a proposal to install extra cameras along the end lines, goal lines and sidelines.

The league also will experiment with a proposal to move extra-point kicks from the 2-yard line to the 25-yard line during the first two weeks of the preseason. That will make the one-point attempt the equivalent of a 43-yard field goal.

– Matthew Barrows