October 1 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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It didn’t get much attention, but Steve Mariucci made two challenges in the game against the Redskins. Both challenges helped the 49ers put away the Redskins and gain their second victory of the season. Mariucci making these calls was vital to the ebb and flow of the game.
The first challenge came after a Jeff Garcia pass appeared to be intercepted by the Redskins. Mariucci effectively called the challenge, and under review, the call on the field was over ruled. As the coach though, the ball was not intercepted as it hit the ground before the defensive back had control of it.
The challenge allowed the 49ers to punt the ball away, rather than turn it over on their side of the field. And so the 49ers punted, which lead to Mariucci’s second consecutive, successful challenge. The punt was fumbled by the Redskin returnee after a 49er encroached on his territory and recovered by a 49er. The 49er was flagged for interference, but after a huddle by the officials, the call was over turned because the 49ers was pushed into the territory, and because he never made contact with the returnee. The referee than stated that it was Washington’s ball - for some reason ignoring that the 49ers recovered the fumble.
Mariucci’s second challenge was again successful, and suddenly the 49ers had a first down near mid-field as opposed to the Redskins having the ball in 49ers territory. The two challenges by Mariucci helped deflate a Redskins team, which was certainly not out of the game. Mariucci, and the staff up stairs who often see the replay before the team calls for a challenge did an excellent job this past week.