The Colin and Clay Show

SI photographer Robert Beck had a sideline view of the critical, and controversial, fracas in Sunday’s testy Packers-Niners game

Sports photographers often have the best view in the NFL house. During the 2013 season, The MMQB will regularly talk to the game’s best shooters about what they see from the sideline (or the stands, or the blimp) and how they get the critical shot.

BY EMILY KAPLAN | PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Sports Illustrated photographer Robert Beck kneeled in the middle of the end zone. With 9:30 remaining in the first half of Sunday’s game at Candlestick Park, San Francisco faced a 3rd-and-6 at the Green Bay 10. “I thought the Niners might run up the middle,” Beck says. “To keep the Packers honest.”

Not quite. With no passing options, Colin Kaepernick scrambled to the sideline. That provoked a late hit by Clay Matthews, a sideline scrum and two blown calls—a crucial series in San Francisco’s 34-28 win. “Did I know it would be a key moment? Definitely not,” says Beck, an SI photographer since 1986. “I misjudged the play, but luckily I was close enough to capture the action anyway.”

Initially, Beck focused on Matthews. The All-Pro linebacker with blonde hair that spills below his shoulders—one of the most charismatic and visually interesting players to shoot, Beck said—launched toward Kaepernick two steps too late.  “I knew Clay made comments about Kaepernick during the week,” Beck says. “So anything between the two would be big.”

Beck then concentrated on Niners tackle Joe Staley, who instigated the scuffle by shoving Matthews. (After offsetting fouls, the officials incorrectly allowed San Francisco to repeat third down; Kaepernick threw a touchdown pass). “It was so loud, I couldn’t hear the public address announcer,” Beck says. “I didn’t realize what happened until later; I just kept shooting.”

Beck snapped photos of the tussle until Kaepernick and Staley exited. “Once they left, I knew the refs would clean it up,” Beck said.

So he glanced at the sideline. “And I saw [Niners coach Jim] Harbaugh going absolutely crazy,” Beck said. “So I focused on him for a while.”

The California-based Beck will miss shooting at Candlestick Park. The facilities are a bit old, he said. Getting there—two roads in, two roads out—can be tough. “But the big games and big plays that have happened there—it’s great to have a stadium with so much history,” Beck says.

And the photographer enjoys being right in the middle.

17 comments
btcvsolo
btcvsolo

The sports team in my immediate area is superior to the sports team in your immediate area!

(My favorite T-shirt from The Onion)

30 States want to secede
30 States want to secede

I'm dissapointed in Matthews, he should of landed with his full weight on K.! CL wasted his time.

BobbySabnani
BobbySabnani

NFL officials said later that staley shouldn't have been flagged...It should have been first and goal from the 3. 

partidoalto
partidoalto

Matthews' clothesline on Kaepernick and his two punches at Staley warranted an automatic ejection and the ball on the three yard line.

BillDeMartini
BillDeMartini

The NFL came out and said that Staley should not have been penalized which was obvious if you actually watched the game and not just listened to all the talking heads talking about how the 49ers got an extra down and "that is why they won."  Which is absolutely ridiculous. 

The NFL stated today that the 49ers should have had the ball on the 3 yard line, 1st and goal to go.  Which is the correct call.  Matthews should have been ejected.

HeyJPH
HeyJPH

By the way, Emily. John coaches the Ravens. Jim coaches the Niners. And it's Harbaugh, not Harabaugh.

vienners
vienners

They celebrated a touchdown that shouldn't have been? WTF?League came back and said that there shouldn't have been a penalty on Staley.

ericwkillian
ericwkillian

Seems like even if they were going to call the penalty on Staley it should have been late hit on Matthews, then offsetting penalties on Staley and Matthews for their scuffle so two penalties on Matthews and a first and goal.

Basically the refs blew it on several levels and even got their bad calls enforced wrong.

One thing that comes out of this as well is that Niners fans and Seahawks fans can put aside our hatred of each other to agree that Packers fans are some of the most self entitled, spoiled brat whiners in the league, neck and neck with Steelers fans.

jhiken6022
jhiken6022

@vienners How many such scrums wind up with the instigator getting off scot free while the guy retaliating gets the flag?? 75%?? How many times does the NFL decide it was the wrong call? Never.  This is just NFL obfuscation of a blown rule call by the officials - unforgiveable.  The unsportsmanlike conduct controversy is subjective interpretation and happens almost every game.  This is the same lame NFL response as after the Fail Mary.


BTW, I still feel the 49ers would have - and deserved to - beat my Packers.

beekay31
beekay31

@matt37 @partidoalto The league also thinks the Fail Mary shouldn't be overturned.  The suits aren't about getting calls right.  They're about saving face.  They downgraded Leavy's team after the game?  Why?  Because they screwed up the downs.  You really think they'd downgrade a reffing crew for a judgment call like taunting?  Please.

jhiken6022
jhiken6022

@ericwkillian Except that in your scenario, there are multiple dead ball fouls which offset. Since they occurred after the down ended, the play stands.  4th down.

MrTeebs
MrTeebs

@theMMQB How about fixing the caption on the Touchdown celebration photo.  They celebrated a touchdown made more difficult (3rd&6 vs 1st&Goal) by officiating crew botching the whole situation.  But then who needs accuracy in journalism when you have controversy.

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