Shrewd use of instant replay hurts 49ers

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Buffalo coach Dick Jauron had lost five replay challenges this season before Sunday, fewer than only Saints' Sean Payton. Jauron lost another challenge against the 49ers, dropping his season record to 1-6, but that didn't do the 49ers any good when Jauron shrewdly challenged a call after officials ruled Frank Gore down by contact at the Buffalo 18-yard line late in the third quarter.

Replays showed Gore tripping over teammate David Baas before hitting the ground. The ball came out when Gore hit the ground. Officials ruled Gore down by contact. The 49ers were about to run another play when Jauron threw his challenge flag. Officials watched the replay and correctly determined that Gore could not be ruled down by contact if no member of the opposing team had touched him. And because the Bills clearly recovered the ball after Gore lost it, Buffalo was allowed to take over possession.

The 49ers were leading 10-3 and driving toward what could have been a knockout touchdown. Instead, the Bills have the ball as the third quarter winds down. Give credit to the Bills for using the replay system effectively in a critical situation. The 49ers' use of replay this season hasn't always worked out so well. Mike Singletary has a 1-2 record in challenges.