Giants-49ers ref: Holding calls vs. inside DL

2009-12 Defensive Holds on DTs, NTs

SAN FRANCISCO -- Since 2009, referee John Parry's crews have thrown none of the 37 defensive holding flags targeting players ESPN lists as interior defensive linemen.

That's something to keep in mind after New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith "gets away with murder" by holding offensive linemen to free up pass-rushing teammates.

Parry's crew has been assigned to work the Giants-49ers game from Candlestick Park later Sunday.

Smith plays defensive end in the 49ers' 3-4 scheme, but he shifts inside on passing downs. He's listed as a defensive tackle in ESPN's penalty database, as are some other 3-4 defensive ends with the ability to play tackle. Arizona's Darnell Dockett is another player in that category.

Referees are not solely responsible for all the calls their crews make, of course. And in some cases, crews have changed over the years.

But if Parry's crew calls Smith for what has been a rarely called infraction against defensive linemen in general, we'll have something to talk about.

As 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh put it in a statement Friday, "Kevin Gilbride's outrageous, irrational statement regarding Justin Smith’s play is, first, an absurd analogy. Second, it is an incendiary comment targeting one of the truly exemplary players in this league. It's obvious that the Giants coaching staff’s sole purpose is to use their high visibility to both criticize and influence officiating."

The chart shows defensive holding calls by non-replacement referees. Thirty-four of the 37 were on first, second or third downs.