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Niners Scored on Referee’s Blown Extra Down Call, Official Says

San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drops back to pass against the Green Bay Packers in the fourth quarter at Candlestick Park on September 8, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Photographer: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) -- An officiating error extended a touchdown-scoring drive for the San Francisco 49ers in their 34-28 season-opening win over the Green Bay Packers.

Bill Leavy, the head referee for yesterday’s National Football League game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, said he mistakenly ruled that a second-quarter play be done over as a third down rather than standing as fourth down after offsetting penalties.

With nine minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter and the score tied 7-7, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick scrambled left and ran out of bounds at the Green Bay 6-yard-line after a four-yard gain. A personal foul was called against the Packers’ Clay Matthews for a late hit and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was issued to the Niners’ Joe Staley for retaliating.

“On the play where the quarterback went out of bounds and was hit late out of bounds, and then there was a subsequent hit by a San Francisco player, the down should have counted,” Leavy said, according to a statement after the game. “The penalties were both dead ball and they should have offset at the spot where the runner went out of bounds. And it would have been fourth down.”

Instead, Kaepernick found Anquan Boldin for a 10-yard touchdown on the ensuing 3rd-and-6 play.

The NFL has no further comment, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an e-mail.

“That’s part of the game,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after the loss. “The ball doesn’t always bounce your way.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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