Boomer Esiason was wrong about his 49ers penalty accusation
CBS Sports analyst Boomer Esiason made a big claim about the San Francisco 49ers’ trick play touchdown in the first half of Super Bowl LVIII, but he does not appear to have been correct.
During the CBS halftime show, Esiason claimed that the 21-yard touchdown from wide receiver Juwan Jennings to Christian McCaffrey should not have counted. According to Esiason, 49ers center Jake Brendel should have been flagged for being downfield illegally, which would have nullified the play. Esiason threw the comment out abruptly, and nobody followed up on it during the halftime show.
Boomer Esiason says Christian McCaffrey's Touchdown should not have counted due to an illegal man downfield. pic.twitter.com/phgH1eGcVz
— Craig R. Brittain (@RealBrittain) February 12, 2024
It is not clear what led Esiason to make that assertion. For one, the entire play took place behind the line of scrimmage. Second, according to the NFL rulebook in Article 2 of Section 3, ineligible receivers can advance past the line of scrimmage after a pass is thrown as long as they do not engage any blockers. It is clear from the play diagram posted by the NFL’s Next Gen Stats that Brendel, wearing No. 64, was clearly behind the line when Jennings threw to McCaffrey. Brendel did not engage any Chiefs defenders before McCaffrey caught the pass.
Jauan Jennings & Christian McCaffrey (21-yd TD) 📽️
McCaffrey had a 58.4% chance of scoring when he caught the ball according to the NGS expected YAC model, the 2nd-most probable TD reception caught behind the LOS outside the 25-yard line this season.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) February 12, 2024
The side-angle video of the play confirms this. Brendel is behind the 21-yard line when the pass is thrown. He does cross the line when the ball is in the air, but is nowhere near any Chiefs players until McCaffrey has possession.
WHAT. A. PLAY.
— NFL (@NFL) February 12, 2024
It was very strange for Esiason to throw out such a big claim and have it go unaddressed by the CBS crew. If his claim were correct, it would represent a major miss by the officials, since the play accounted for the only touchdown of the first half.
This has not been a great week for Esiason, who has been called out for inaccurate reporting once already.