Niners, Patriots could present challenges

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sa

Niners coach Mike Nolan said he threw a challenge flag against the Saints in Week 4 because he wanted to call a timeout and figured he might as well take a shot at getting a reversal.

The move, made during the third quarter, burned one of two coach-initiated challenges allowed per game. In the unlikely event the 49ers would have wanted to challenge two calls over the game's final 24 minutes, they would not have been able to.

Nolan's strategy gave me an excuse to dive into the replay-related stats I started maintaining after the 2005 season (retroactive to 2003).

Nolan is far more likely to waste challenges at home than on the road. His counterpart in Week 5, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, is far more likely to waste challenges on the road. So, let the challenge flags fly at Candlestick Park on Sunday.

Overall, head coaches have challenged 44 calls this season, producing 13 reversals. The chart shows replay records for every coach with at least two challenges this season. I also track officiating stats by crew, covering replay challenges and penalties. Download that file here.

By my count, Nolan has challenged 10 plays on the road (6-4 record) and 18 at home (6-12 record) since taking over as coach of the 49ers. Jack Del Rio, with 10 more home than road challenges, is the only active coach with a larger home-road disparity since 2003. I have Dick Jauron and Nolan tied with eight more challenges issued at home than on the road. These totals are unofficial, but I check them against league totals each offseason.

Belichick, making his first visit to Candlestick Park as coach of the Patriots, has taken the opposite approach to replay over the same period. He has initiated nine more challenges on the road than at home, the largest such disparity among active coaches. My records show Belichick with a 7-13 road record and 3-8 home record in replay challenges since 2003.