Originally Posted by CalBearRJ
Isn't "to the whistle" really a second or two after the whistle is blown? How quickly do you react to somewhat randomly occurring auditory signals?
Every defense tries to gain this advantage to some extent. It's up to the officials to figure out if the ball came out before the whistle or after.
Also, I have to say I find it amusing that someone is calling out the 49ers defense for trying extra hard to strip the ball, when a team the Niners played in the playoffs has been busted for running a head-hunting bounty system and deliberately trying to injure opposing players. It could always be worse, you know.