Trent Williams

Why Williams wasn't ejected from 49ers-Giants after apparent punch

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SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers' dominant 30-12 win over the New York Giants on Thursday at Levi's Stadium was a hard-fought affair, with some of that physicality spilling beyond the game plan.

An on-field skirmish at the end of the second quarter resulted in 49ers left tackle Trent Williams striking Giants defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson in the facemask.

While both players were penalized for the altercation, some wondered why Williams wasn't ejected from the game for appearing to punch Robinson. After the 49ers' win, NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson explained the crew's reasoning to PFWA Pool Reporter Matt Barrows of The Athletic.

"When we have a flag thrown on the field for unnecessary roughness, members of the officiating department are able to review available video, Rule 19, to determine if there is a flagrant action that should result in a disqualification," Anderson told Barrows. "We ended up looking at the video we had available to us, and we just didn’t see anything that rose to the level of flagrant, which is the standard that we have to apply to disqualify the player."

Anderson explained that the decision was up to the judgement of the officiating crew.

“Well, these are judgment calls and a lot of times you might end up having an open hand, often a stiff arm to the face, versus a closed fist punch, which certainly carries a different weight to it," Anderson told Barrows. "So, we ended up looking at the available video we had and just didn’t feel like the actions rose to the level of flagrant. You can certainly end up having contact with hands to the helmet, and some of those actions would be deemed a punch, others would not."

In the locker room after the game, Williams described the incident as a "love tap."

While Williams' fist appeared to be closed when hitting Robinson, the video officials ended up reviewing showed his actions didn't rise to the level of flagrant, Anderson said.

“We couldn’t confirm that 100 percent from the standpoint of was it truly a closed fist with a strike," he concluded. "We just couldn’t determine that.” 

Williams never has been one to sit by idly on the field when a confrontation is occurring, and it's clear NFL officials believe he was penalized correctly Thursday night.

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