49ers film room: Making the call on Trent Taylor’s questionable Week 3 pass-interference penalty

SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Trent Taylor #81 of the San Francisco 49ers scores a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 21, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Trent Taylor #81 of the San Francisco 49ers scores a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 21, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Niner Noise looks at the film behind San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Trent Taylor’s questionable offensive pass-interference penalty against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3.

The San Francisco 49ers were trailing 41-39 to the Los Angeles Rams with 1:54 remaining on the clock in Week 3.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer was successfully leading a drive that could have put the Niners ahead with a late-game field goal, potentially securing San Francisco’s first win of the season.

On 3rd-and-10 at the 50-yard line, Hoyer delivered an 11-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Trent Taylor, who broke free from Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman towards the sidelines.

But, as 49ers fans know, Taylor was flagged for an offensive pass-interference call, negating the play and all but stalling San Francisco’s potential game-winning drive.

The play, as shown below, wasn’t without controversy. Even Niners Nation used some not-safe-for-work language to describe the call against Taylor:

The national broadcast — shown above — doesn’t adequately reveal whether or not Taylor managed to push off enough to warrant a call. It’s possible to see Taylor’s arm extend, but the actual extent of it isn’t quite clear.

But what about the all-22 film? What does that show?

Breaking Down the All-22

There’s only one workable angle made available on the all-22 film, at least one with Taylor’s penalty in the screenshot.

Looking at the play (it’s hard to see), there is a small spot where it looks like Taylor’s arm is extended against Robey-Coleman:

OPI1 /

The all-22 angle, even zoomed in, doesn’t give an adequate amount of information to determine whether or not Taylor committed the penalty.

But this gif is a little bit more indicative of what happened. Instead of looking at the arm movement, check out Robey-Coleman’s left foot after contact:

Robey-Coleman’s left foot moves to the right over the center line of his running path, suggesting a slight change in trajectory. This could be due to his own arm action, but neither the game or all-22 film provides enough evidence either way.

It’s important to note Taylor did not dispute the call right after it happened. This could be one of two things — either Taylor recognized he pushed off or, being a rookie, he didn’t feel it was his place to argue with an official.

But there were a few professional takes on the penalty that might help clarify some things.

The Rules for an Offensive Pass-Interference Call

Rule 8, Section 5, Article 2 of the NFL’s rule book — explained more here — specifies what defines offensive pass interference.

The relevant passage (subtopic D) reads:

"Extending an arm across the body of an opponent, thus restricting his ability to catch a pass, and regardless of whether the player committing such act is playing the ball."

Do Taylor’s actions indicate such?

Current Fox Sports analyst, and the league’s former vice president of officiating, Mike Pereira weighed in on what he thought of the call, via the Sacramento Bee:

"The sideline shot looked as if there might be some type of a push off, but it’s too far away and totally inconclusive.So in the end, when the 49ers and the head of officiating look at the play, they just have to say that you can’t prove the official right and you can’t prove him wrong. The way we used to treat these plays in the NFL is that you will go with the call on the field that was made by the person that had the best angle. That clearly was the side judge who had the direct look in between the two players, and he’s the one who made the call."

Pereira’s conclusion, also noting the lack of adequate film, is the only person in position to make the closest judgment was the side judge.

Conclusive? No, but there’s no other way to call it.

More from Niner Noise

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan saw things a bit differently.

“I saw a very good route,” noted Shanahan on Friday, via the San Jose Mercury News. Yet most coaches and players would make the case to not be in a position where officiating can determine the outcome of the game.

Still, there is a trend late in NFL games to bury the flags a bit deeper in officials’ pockets, thereby letting the players play.

This might not have been the case on Thursday, but there isn’t exactly conclusive evidence to suggest the refs got the call right or wrong.

Next: 5 stats the 49ers need to improve in Week 4

You make the call, although my personal judgment would be to simply let the players play in this situation.