SANTA CLARA — 'Tis the NFL season of controversial officiating, so it's worth noting that Clete Blakeman will serve as the referee for Sunday's NFC West battle between the host 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
Blakeman is no stranger to controversy -- nor are most officials, lately.
Blakeman failed to call a penalty on Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin for his sideline interference on Jacoby Jones' kick return on Thanksgiving. Tomlin subsequently drew a $100,000 fine for his actions.
Only 2 ½ weeks ago, Blakeman waved off a potential pass-interference penalty at the end of the New England Patriots' loss to the Carolina Panthers, a ruling the league supported upon review.
"You never like to end the game with some controversy like that on a call, but I'm pleased that our officiating crew got together and communicated and discussed it and, ultimately, I believe we got it right," Blakeman told a pool reporter afterward.
Blakeman didn't go unnoticed in his past two 49ers games.
Last season, Blakeman and his crew allowed 79 seconds to improperly run off the clock in the second quarter of the 49ers' 24-24 home tie with the St. Louis Rams. The NFL issued a statement the next day confirming the clock error.
In 2010, Blakeman ejected defensive tackle Justin Smith for making contact with umpire Garth DeFelice in a 34-7 loss at San Diego. Although Blakeman deemed Smith's act "intentional," the league did not fine Smith for his actions.
Blakeman's only other 49ers game in which he served as the referee: a 31-10 loss to the host Kansas City Chiefs.
The 49ers and Seahawks combined for 22 penalties and 205 penalty yards in their Sept. 15 meeting, a 29-3 win by host Seattle. The 49ers' Aldon Smith, Anthony Davis and Vance McDonald drew 15-yard, personal-foul penalties in the second half of that game.
In other officiating news, the NFL levied only one fine from the 49ers' win last Sunday over the Rams, with guard Adam Snyder getting docked $7,875 for a personal-foul penalty. The Rams' T.J. McDonald was not fined for tackling Vernon Davis by the groin.