The NFL is about to close a major loophole the 49ers used successfully in 2016
There wasn’t much to appreciate from the San Francisco 49ers’ 2016 season, but we can all agree to melt clock was a fun one.
At least it was interesting, anyway — Kelly had multiple 49ers defenders hold multiple Saints players late in the first half, with eight seconds on the clock and the Saints at the 49ers’ 13-yard line. The ploy forced Drew Brees to throw the ball away, handing the Saints five free yards and setting up a field goal because of the time elapsed in the game in question.
It’s the sort of thing one might call a little skeezy, but also the sort of thing a total skeezebag (*raises hand*) totally appreciates.
“We have multiple fouls on the play, all against the defense,” the referee announced at the time. “We have holding, defense, No. 25. That foul is declined. Holding, defense, No. 27. That penalty is declined. Holding, defense, No. 35 is accepted. Five-yard penalty, automatic first down.”
The NFL made it pretty clear the league wasn’t a fan of the move, with a report emerging shortly afterwards that the league planned to to melt clock on multiple plays, calling it a “palpably unfair act” penalty, SI.com’s Greg Bedard reported. That would result in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.
Now the NFL is just going to take the nuance out of it.
A rule proposed by the Competition Committee (and thus more likely to be approved than a rule proposed by the team) for the upcoming NFL owners’ meetings “makes it unsportsmanlike conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.”
This is a clear shot at the 49ers play.
But it’s also a shot at other potentially similar plays that could be utilized to nullify a Hail Mary (hold five dudes, pull them down and melt the clock) or something of that nature.
The guess here is that the NFL would set it up so that any such a foul would result in assessing the penalty (15 yards or half the distance to the goal) and then replaying the down/resetting the clock.
Because otherwise, simply making it a 15-yard penalty wouldn’t do anything. The 49ers could have done the same thing and the penalty — five yards to the 8-yard line in real life, seven yards to the 6-yard line in this hypothetical — would not have made that much of a difference.
It’s quite clear, regardless of what the league passes, that it’s trying to slam closed on a fun little loophole.
This post originally appeared on CBS Sports. Copyright 2017.