Martz explains frantic final minute

Because of confusion created by officials in the final seconds, Niners offensive coordinator Mike Martz left Monday night's 29-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals not even knowing from where on the field the 49ers actually ran their final play. Here, Martz goes into detail about what happened during the frantic final minute that saw San Francisco come up one yard short of a dramatic victory.

Q: Have you, in general, ever had a game or circumstances quite like that before?
Martz:
No. There was a lot of confusion there at the end. The only thing I wish had happened, and the officials always do this, the officials always come over and explain to you what's going to happen based on what they saw on the replay, and for whatever reason they neglected to do that. That's a courtesy that's always afforded. Why they didn't do that, I don't know. We did not know the ball was going to be on the three-and-a-half [yard line], obviously, or we would have never called that play. We thought that we were going to be given back time on the clock. We thought the ball was going to be somewhere around the one-yard line. The play made two yards, so it's a moot point whether it was on the one [yard line] or the one-half [yard line]. It doesn't matter. He would have scored. If it's on the three-and-a-half, obviously, we don't do that play.

Q: Why did you think that it would be on the half-yard line?
Martz:
That's what I could see out there. That's when they spotted the ball. From where I was standing, there's people standing around the ball, and then they're in the huddle, and you can't see anything. Then, they walked it off at the last second and said it was going to start on the officials, what do you call it, whistle – or whatever they call that. At that point, I just thought that the quarterback did a great job because the back was supposed to motion out on that play, and he wouldn't have had time to motion out. He just told him to line up out there. All things considered, if they had moved it back to the 10-yard line, we couldn't have changed the play. It wouldn't have mattered. We had to run that play. You couldn't change anything. I thought that was unfortunate. We just got kind of caught in the victim. We were trying to spike the ball. Had we been allowed to spike the ball, none of this would have ever happened. Then, if they had decided to review it, then they review it, but the clock was stopped. We could have gotten the personnel in that we wanted to do, and whether you score or not, whatever, but you're going to do a play that you want from the three-yard line or the two-and-a-half, or the three-and-a-half or wherever the hell it is. At least you can change what you want.

Q: Why not spike the ball with four seconds left when they restarted the play after the review?
Martz:
I didn't know it was on the three-and-a-half until this morning. I didn't know.

Q: You didn't know?
Martz:
I still didn't know until this morning. I left the stadium thinking we didn't make it because we were from the one-and-a-half or the one-yard line. I left the stadium thinking that the ball was still, we just – I couldn't believe that we couldn't punch it in from the one-yard line. I was upset with that. I didn't know it was on the three – I couldn't see from where I was. It happened so fast, half the guys up here didn't know. We didn't know. You look at the tape and it's on the three-and-a-half [yard line] or three-yard line, wherever it is.

Q: Shouldn't the guys up in the booth be feeding you that information?
Martz:
Yeah, when they do this [waves arm above head] so spot the ball, and they give it one of these deals [moves arm in circular motion]; ‘You have got to spike it. You have got to spike it. There's no headset on…15 seconds, you can't talk to the quarterback. What are you going to do?

Q: So at what point are you watching the film and you realize where the ball really was?
Martz:
I got a call from Mike Nolan this morning and he knew exactly what happened.

Q: No kidding?
Martz:
Yeah, oh yeah. He was the only one that was smart enough to look at the TV, and he knew immediately. He's the only one that really knows football well enough to know exactly what happened.

Q: What did he say?
Martz:
He said, ‘Hey, you got victimized by the replay,' which is basically what happened. Because if we had been allowed to get that spike, then – you know how [inaudible]. Now, whether your score or not, who knows. Just angry and frustrated with the way that whole thing developed. I guess there's really nobody to blame other than, it was just a real lack of communication there that probably wasn't very good.

Q: Before that when, with Jason Hill at the one-yard line. What happened there?
Martz:
There was some chaos that I created on the sideline. I did a bad job there. We were trying to spike it there and I called a personnel change and the personnel change went in when we were going to spike it and there was a lot of confusion. I just went too fast with everything and it created too much confusion. That's my fault more than anything else. And then poor Shaun [Hill's] standing there. He's waiting for everyone to get off the field and there's just so much confusion. That's just a bad job of coaching on my part. I knew what we wanted to do. I called out two different things at the same time. It all happened at the same time, and we don't want that.

Q: Both?
Martz:
Yeah, I knew exactly what we wanted to do and wanted to spike it and get this personnel group in. We got the personnel group in while were trying to spike it.

Q: In retrospect, you would spike it and then get the personnel group in?
Martz:
That's what we were trying to do, yeah.

Q: Get the personnel group in later, after the spike?
Martz:
Yes, right. I was excited. I knew that we were going to score. I wanted to make sure we had the personnel group in quickly, and we got this thing rolling. I screwed it up basically.

Q: Were you impressed by the way Shaun Hill sort of settled things down?
Martz:
Yeah, I love his demeanor in the game. I really love his demeanor in the game. I don't like his mistakes. The one interception was just a very poor decision. He got…the other interception he got fooled a little bit by the receiver. The receiver was going one way and when he threw it, he took off going the other way. So I wouldn't blame him for that at all.

Q: The underhand [throw]?
Martz:
Yeah, yeah. He got a little fooled there. He managed the game well. He had the fumble on the trap and he had the interception. We seemed to get two or three bad plays each game now, but we can overcome all of that. We were in a position to overcome all of that. We still had all kinds of things happen that game that would have overcome all of that if we just made those plays.

Q: Are you saying the one where he threw the underhanded? That wasn't the bad play?
Martz:
No, no the receiver took off. When he threw that, the receiver was going in one direction and we let it go. He changed directions and went away.

Q: Because people look at that, and they go, ‘Well, that's the bad mistake.'
Martz:
No, no, no. See in other words, if you're there and I'm flipping you the ball as I release it and you look at me and then you go that way.

Q: Was that Frank [Gore] who was running away?
Martz:
Yeah, Frank…We have a rule when the quarterbacks on a scramble that you take angles and take off and go. It was just a miscommunication. I mean that happens. We still overcome that. You still overcome that. You just do.

Q: To be clear [with] twenty seconds to go on the spike. You are trying to spike the ball and get a personnel group in at the same time when one should be done first and then…What personnel group was it?
Martz:
It was the big group, our tank group because I knew we were on the one-yard line, or close to it. So that's Coach Martz screwed up, error, kind of a deal.

Q: On the goal-line play. The Michael Robinson carry. Does that play look different if Frank Gore has time to go in motion?
Martz:
Yeah, yeah. He still gets two yards on the play. I mean he still made two yards. I mean he almost put it in anyway. He still got two yards on the play. Now whether it was three yards and a quarter or three and a half or two and 3.7, or 2.98, I don't know, but I think if it was inside the two it's going to make it.

Q: I see in the press box the officials after the review saying that it would be placed at the two-and-a-half [yard line], and your saying three-and-a-half…
Martz:
Look, first of all you can't hear anything that the officials say on the sideline. So you could say this, you could say whatever you want, nobody on the sideline can hear that official over the speaker. You can't hear, it's [inaudible]. That's why it's courtesy for officials to come over and explain it to you on the sideline [because] you know you can't hear that. And it would give you an opportunity…clarify things with the head coach to let you know those things. It just didn't happen that way, we lose.

Q: I mean, they didn't do that.
Martz:
They didn't do that and then again, they're not obligated to do that. But after 17 years in the league, anytime anything like that's happened they've always done that. For some reason, they elected not to do that and that's their prerogative. That's certainly their prerogative, isn't it?

Q: Would you agree that they were a little discombobulated last night?
Martz:
No, no, no, no. I'm not going to make any comment about that. No, no. I'm sure they got comments for how I called the game, too.

Q: Can you go over that Gore run again?
Martz:
Let me go back and give you the scene. I screwed up the deal which I went too fast for that. I got that screwed up. So we get the ball to Frank [Gore]. Frank comes off of the left side [and] he's down at what it looks like is actually inside the one-yard line to us. So they put the ball over so we call this play, we spike it. OK, but they challenge it. We think they're challenging whether he made it in or not, not that he got tagged way back here. We didn't know all that and so we call a play because we think that at least it's going to be somewhere around the one-yard line. Here's the play no matter what happens, even if they start the clock on the official and not the snap. It's a moot point, it's the play we want let's go with it. We come back and it's way further back than what we anticipated. Whether it's at two-and-a- half or three-and-a-half or three, it looked like it was at three-and-a-half, whatever it is that's not the play we'd run from it. It's a play that you run from about a yard or so in, and we would have changed it. We didn't get the opportunity to change it and we're just kind of a victim of the replay I guess you could say.

Q: Why did you guys think 12 seconds, that there might be 12 seconds left?
Martz:
That's what we were told over the headset from upstairs. We have some experts up there that are affiliated with that and to not go any further about it, they said you should get 12 more seconds back on the clock, and we didn't get it. Now why we thought that, I don't know.



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