Jimmy Garoppolo pulls a Dan Orlovsky and costs 49ers a safety

Jimmy Garoppolo pulled a Dan Orlovsky and gifted the Broncos 2 points

It has been a big Sunday for infamy in the NFL.

First, the Miami Dolphins executed the butt-punt that led to a reaction from Mark Sanchez, the author of the butt-fumble.

Then, the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo decided to pull a modified Dan Orlovsky by dropping back and stepping out of the back of the end zone, gifting the Denver Broncos 2 points on Sunday Night Football.

The play brought the Broncos within 7-5, more typical of a score in a Giants-Rockies game after about 5 innings at Coors Field.

Orlovsky, now an ESPN analyst, showed a sense of humor, recalling his 2008 gaffe.


Officials miss Deebo Samuel’s offensive pass interference on 49ers’ opening touchdown

The 49ers’ first Sunday Night Football touchdown shouldn’t have happened, because Deebo Samuel committed offensive pass interference.

Especially in the red zone, offenses will do whatever they can get away with to create natural rubs and picks — concepts that create receiver openings. The NFL counters the most egregious examples of this behavior by calling offensive pass interference when they happen… unless the officials miss it.

When Sunday Night Football’s Week 3 matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos comes down, no matter the result, the Broncos will have a legitimate beef with Shawn Hochuli’s crew.

With 7:56 left in the first quarter, Jimmy Garoppolo hit receiver Brandon Aiyuk for a three-yard touchdown on a quick receiver screen. Or so it seemed.

Notice how fellow receiver Deebo Samuel (No. 19) blocks cornerback Kareem Jackson (No. 22) into the end zone, an action that also prevents cornerback Ronald Darby (No. 23) from getting to Aiyuk.

It’s a great block. it’s also offensive pass interference. After NBC’s telecast came back from commercial, Mike Tirico asked NBC rules analyst and former official Terry McAulay about interference on this play.

“It was indeed offensive pass interference,” McAulay said. “It’s illegal to block more than a yard downfield, and the receiver [Samuel] clearly does that. He engages the defender more than a yard before the ball is touched by the receiver. This should have been offensive pass interference.”

“As a receiver, you have to act like you’re trying to run some kind of route,” analyst and former NFL receiver Cris Collinsworth responded. “He was pretty obvious with it.”

Had offensive pass interference been called, that would have negated the touchdown, and moved the ball 10 yards back to the Denver 13-yard line. San Francisco would have had second-and goal from the 13, so another touchdown was certainly possible at that point, but the 49ers got the touchdown they shouldn’t have.

There are several pieces of offensive pass interference in the NFL rulebook that apply to this particular play.

Section 5, Article 2(e):

Acts that are pass interference include, but are not limited to:

Cutting off the path of an opponent by making contact with him, without playing the ball;

Section 5, Article 4:

Other prohibited acts by the offense:

Blocking more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage by an offensive player prior to a pass being thrown is offensive pass interference. See 8-3-1-Item 1 for exception for an ineligible offensive player.

Note: It is also pass interference by the offense to block a defender beyond the line while the pass is in the air, if the block occurs in the vicinity of the player to whom the pass is thrown. See 8-3-1-Note for exception for ineligible players.

Samuel was eligible, so he didn’t fit any exception. The ball was in the air before Samuel blocked Jackson, but he was obviously in Aiyuk’s vicinity, so by definition, this was offensive pass interference.

Though the Broncos wound up winning this game 11-10 thanks to Jimmy Garoppolo’s decision to run out of the back of this own end zone, but that missed call could have made a major difference. We’d just like officials to be aware of the rules.

The Seahawks tried a rare four-running back formation against the 49ers

The 2022 Seattle Seahawks will try to manufacture offense by any means necessary, including the use of some exceedingly rare formations.

The Seattle Seahawks’ offense didn’t look that good in Sunday’s 27-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. But it did look decidedly different at times.

With 5:03 left in the first half, and with first-and-10 at the San Francisco 13-yard line, the Seahawks lined up in a four-running back set — basically pistol Wing-T — with rookie back Kenneth Walker taking the snap, DeeJay Dallas to his left, Travis Homer to his right, and Rashaad Penny behind him.

You’ll see stuff like this all the time at the high-school levels, and sometimes in college, but it is exceedingly rare for any NFL team to put four running backs on the field at the same time. Seattle’s personnel package had those four backs, with quarterback Geno Smith to the left outside, and receiver DK Metcalf to the right outside.

And with that, folks, you have 40 personnel. Which, as we said, you don’t see a lot.

And here’s what it looked like overhead:

The direct snap to Walker was good for a five-yard gain. Right guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Abe Lucas pulled to the left, Homer and Penny flared out as quick pass options to either side, and it was up to Walker to decide what do do. Walker ran a play-action fake to Dallas, tried to run to his right, and made a nice quick bounce to his right off of that. From there, it was all on him to get whatever gain he could out of it.

How rare is this formation? Per Sports Info Solutions, there is no example of a four-back package of any kind in the NFL going back to 2016. So, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll probably thought he was putting one over on his division rival.

“There is not enough information there yet to be really excited about it,” Carroll said on Monday of his “Wildcat” package. “We will continue to explore.”

And what would be the advantages here, besides the fact that we all know how much Carroll loves to have as many running backs on the field as possible?

“It’s just an additional way to utilize the offense,” he said. “You make the defense declare how they are going to play it quickly, with the quick substitution, and all of that. They have to figure it out, and you can see if there is anything there that you can take advantage of. You get a numbers advantage when you go to ‘Wildcat’ that helps you run the football if you are fortunate enough to get enough looks at it. It’s just another dimension of trying to be multiple.”

At least one high school coach found it easy to identify.

We don’t know where it’s going in the Seahawks’ case, but as the team needs to do just about anything possible to manufacture offense, we imagine we’ll see different offshoots of their “Wildcat” concepts as the season goes along.

Secret Superstars for Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season

Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar points out the NFL’s great performances by unheralded players in his weekly Secret Superstars team.

There are all kinds of reasons that NFL players are underrated.

Perhaps they’re in systems that don’t best show their skills. Maybe they’re buried on a depth chart. Or, they’re in somebody’s doghouse, and their coaches can’t see their potential. Sometimes, young players haven’t quite put it all together, but there are enough flashes to make you sit up and take notice, and when it does work, it’s all good.

Week 1 of the 2022 regular season features players at every position who showed up and showed out despite their underrated statuses, and here at Touchdown Wire, it’s our job to point them out.

Here are the Secret Superstars for Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season.

Trey Lance takes to social media to say ankle surgery was successful

Trey Lance has undergone successful surgery on his right ankle

Trey Lance suffered a season-ending injury to his right ankle in the San Francisco 49ers’ win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

The second-year quarterback had surgery to repair the damage Monday and afterward took to social media with a positive message.

The 49ers provided more detail:

Jimmy Garoppolo replaced Lance against the Seahawks and will start at quarterback for San Francisco going forward. He’s going to make big bucks in that role.

49ers quarterback Trey Lance officially out for rest of season with ankle injury

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance has been officially ruled out for the rest of the 2022 season with an ankle injury.

The San Francisco 49ers did two things this offseason that could have backfired on them. But as it turns out, one of those things might save the other. In their 27-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, the 49ers lost starting quarterback Trey Lance for the remainder of the season with a fractured ankle.

The team made it official after the game.

The injury happened with 2:33 left in the first quarter. Lance ran to the right guard gap and went down awkwardly after a two-yard run. He was carted off the field.

Then, Jimmy Garoppolo, the now-backup quarterback who recently agreed to a restructured contract, came in and led the team pretty credibly, completing 13 of 21 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers will obviously miss Lance’s impressive upside, and they’ll be limited by Garoppolo’s low ceiling, but at least they’re not in quarterback disaster mode after Lance’s injury. Purgatory, perhaps.

Jimmy Garoppolo throws TD pass after replacing injured Trey Lance

Jimmy Garoppolo came off the bench and was on target for the 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers’ decision to keep Jimmy Garoppolo as a backup has proven brilliant.

Trey Lance was carted off with a right ankle injury in the first quarter of Sunday’s game with the Seattle Seahawks.

On came the veteran Garoppolo and he completed his first four passes, one going for a touchdown.

George Kittle was out, too, so Garoppolo went to Ross Dwelley on a play that was good for 38 yards and gave San Francisco a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter.

49ers QB Trey Lance carted off field with right ankle injury

Trey Lance of the 49ers has been carted off the field in the first quarter with a right-ankle injury

The debate over who should be the quarterback in San Francisco took a sad and sudden turn in the first quarter of the 49ers’ game with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Trey Lance was injured on a play and had to be carted off the field.

The starting quarterback had his right leg in an air cast.

Jimmy Garoppolo came on for the 49ers with Lance having been declared out for the rest of the game … at least.

Classy tweet from Seahawks’ social media team.


Touchdown Wire’s 2022 NFL season predictions

Doug Farrar, Laurie Fitzpatrick, and Luke Easterling fill out Touchdown Wire’s predictions for the 2022 NFL season.

Everybody does predictions before the start of every season in every sport, and of course, we who blather on about the NFL are no exception. Last year, Doug Farrar, Laurie Fitzpatrick, and Mark Schofield filled out the Touchdown Wire predictions sheet, and while the predictions made sense, we all whiffed on a few things — most notably, the Super Bowl teams.

Now, with Mark off to pastures anew (see you ’round, old friend), we’ve enlisted Luke Easterling, the shot-caller for both Bucs Wire and Draft Wire, and an estimable football mind in his own right. Luke and Doug also host the weekly “4-Down Territory” video, which you should definitely check out.

With all that said, let’s get to the predictions. Here’s how we see the 2022 NFL season shaking out — from division winners to Super Bowl champion to a plethora of individual awards.

Trey Lance is fine not being a team captain: ‘I voted for every single one of those guys’

49ers starting quarterback Trey Lance was not named a team captain, but it doesn’t seem to bother him at all.

Trey Lance may be the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback in 2022 — head coach Kyle Shanahan has made no bones about that — but if Lance, the second-year man from North Dakota State, wants to be a team captain, he’ll have to earn it. Because as much as it’s common to make your starting quarterback a captain, that didn’t happen when the 49ers announced theirs on Wednesday.

The list of captains, per our friends at Niners Wire, is fairly formidable.

DL Arik Armstead
DE Nick Bosa
TE George Kittle
FS Jimmie Ward
LB Fred Warner
LT Trent Williams

“I just didn’t want to put seven on there,” Shanahan said of Lance’s omission. “Deebo (Samuel) was eight. … We just wanted to go with six. They don’t allow eight to the coin toss, I don’t believe. It’s also his first year of starting for us. There’s not many rookies who end up being the captains. I know this is his second year, but he’s a rookie for us in terms of this is his first time being our starting quarterback.”

If Lance was upset by it, he certainly didn’t let on.

“Obviously, that’s a goal of mine, but I don’t think you can look at any six of those guys and be like, ‘That guy’s a bozo,’ because those guys have played football at a very, very high level. So yeah, the situations are different. I voted for every single one of those guys, so I think each and every one of them deserves it. But yeah, it’s definitely a goal of mine moving forward. But those guys have all proved it, and that’s what this league is all about.”

No bozos, indeed, and if the 49ers were to name a seventh team captain, I think we can all agree that Deebo Samuel would be the better choice at this point. For Lance, Job 1 is to overcome an iffy preseason to define his new role as the marquee guy on the roster of a potential Super Bowl contender, captain or not.

49ers quarterback Trey Lance’s 2022 preseason was a bit of a mixed bag

That process gets underway on Sunday when the 49ers take on the Bears at Soldier Field.