Skip to content

Harbaugh backs away from “chippy,” but 49ers call Lions “cheap”


Before last night’s win over the Lions, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh called them a “chippy bunch,” and told his players to keep his head on a swivel for cheap shots.

But while he denied saying that after the game, his players generally concurred.

“I can’t really say that. I don’t recall that,” Harbaugh said of his comments to NBC’s Michelle Tafoya. (Maybe he was just evaluating Tafoya’s question and not really answering it.)

But 49ers left tackle Joe Staley made no bones about his feelings.

“I think it was key for our front offensive line to handle it tonight because they like to be cheap after the play and they think that makes them physical,” Staley said, via Bill Emkow of

Harbaugh went on to say he thought the game was “pretty clean for the most part,” even if other players did not agree.

“I got poked in my eyes,” 49ers tight end Vernon Davis said. “Since I got poked I had to sit down. I do not know if it was intentional by [Lions defensive end Cliff] Avril. I am just not sure.”

Quarterback Alex Smith said he was surprised there wasn’t a penalty on the play that saw him get his red badge of courage across the bridge of his nose from a Lions player’s forearm while he slid.

“I wouldn’t say dazed, just bleeding,” Smith said. “I looked up, saw the flag and thought for sure it was a personal foul call, but all of a sudden we were backed up and it was a holding call. I was pretty stunned we didn’t get that call.”

As stunned as his coach apparently was when somebody quoted him saying something that might cause him discomfort later.

Permalink 51 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Detroit Lions, Home, Rumor Mill, San Francisco 49ers
51 Responses to “Harbaugh backs away from “chippy,” but 49ers call Lions “cheap””
  1. voiceofreasonsays says: Sep 17, 2012 10:15 AM

    The most annoying coach and team in professional football. Hands down. They catch teams on the right day and get lucky. Fluke.

  2. itsconor says: Sep 17, 2012 10:20 AM

    Hey guys remember that handshake thing… So glad that’s over and done with.

  3. suhisabeast90 says: Sep 17, 2012 10:29 AM

    Does this team ever stop crying? They sure do make it easy to hate them. They say a team takes on the persona of their coach, well these two teams sure do fit that saying.

    Harbaugh is a whinny cry baby and

    Schwartz is a wanna be bully, that can’t back up his talk.

    They both need some coaching lessons from Tomlin and Belichick.

  4. mjkelly77 says: Sep 17, 2012 10:31 AM

    “I wouldn’t say dazed, just bleeding,” Smith said. “I looked up, saw the flag and thought for sure it was a personal foul call, but all of a sudden we were backed up and it was a holding call. I was pretty stunned we didn’t get that call.”

    As stunned as his coach apparently was when somebody quoted him saying something that might cause him discomfort later.

    StafFORD is the quarterback who took a late hit that wasn’t called. But he doesn’t cry to the media.

    It appears that Smith is attempting to emulate his coach. After all, they do play in whine country, don’t they?

  5. dirtdawg54 says: Sep 17, 2012 10:32 AM

    Sorry Alex. Replacement refs haven’t figured out yet that a forearm to the QBs face is a penalty.

  6. notaslappy says: Sep 17, 2012 10:33 AM

    Lions fan here…both teams play a physical brand of football. I can’t stand it when players or coaches are quoted in the media calling one team cheap, it sounds whiny. I have no idea what goes on in the bottom of a “scrum” but I’m sure it isn’t a tickle fight…and I’m also sure both teams are mixing it up.

    What I do know is this…the Niners defense is nasty. I haven’t seen a defense surround the ball like this since the 2000 Ravens. I don’t like Harbaugh, but he has these guys playing excellent football.

  7. farty5 says: Sep 17, 2012 10:35 AM

    “they like to be cheap after the play and they think that makes them physical,”

    This describes the Lions perfectly. From Cliff Avril getting blocked out of the stadium and the throwing elbows after the play, to Suh stomping, to Schwartz chasing down an opposing coach after a loss.

  8. 49erstim says: Sep 17, 2012 10:35 AM

    They are a cheap team defensively….especially Avril. That shot on Alex was an absurd no call. A forearm to the head on a sliding QB? No problems there, but he got up like a BOSS and sealed the win. New Niner Dynasty!

  9. mvp43 says: Sep 17, 2012 10:43 AM

    I just don’t get Schwart’z approach with the Lions. He continues to instill this philosophy that its okay to cheat and cross the line. This team will regress this year because of this.

    If you want to be tough and win football games, try this approach:

    Play hard
    Play fair

    Thats how you earn respect Mr Schwartz.

  10. murraychadwick says: Sep 17, 2012 10:43 AM

    The 49ers are a really good team, but they are becoming very easy to hate. I thought the game was a good clean game. That being said the refs did miss the call on Smith getting hit, but also missed one on the previous drive when Stafford slid feet first and got hit in the head once he was on the ground as well. Apparenlty the 49ers are the cleanist team in the NFL based on all their complaints about everyon else being cheap.

  11. goofytoofy says: Sep 17, 2012 10:44 AM

    San Fran is better coached and has more talent. But they are really becoming a group of whiners. Seems like every week they have a problem with somebody or something.

  12. fuzzynuts55 says: Sep 17, 2012 10:47 AM

    Both Harbaughs need to act like coaches not players..

  13. zingo1978 says: Sep 17, 2012 10:47 AM

    Seemed like the cheap shots were going strong on both sides to me.

  14. primetime0552 says: Sep 17, 2012 10:47 AM

    Stafford was hit after sliding too and there was no call, so whatever with Smiths not getting called either. how about the 49ers blocking 49ers after the whistle and drilling them into the ground? yep the Lions were the dirty ones during the game. watch the replay of when his eyes got poked, if that was intentional Avril is the best at making things look accidental.

  15. blowpackblow says: Sep 17, 2012 10:51 AM

    This guy is on the same level of suck as Cutler

  16. truthpwns says: Sep 17, 2012 10:53 AM

    Lions fans are claiming Stafford was sliding feet first and there was a no call. GO BACK AND WATCH THE PLAY! he was diving headfirst. that was a completely legal hit.

  17. lionsfan2086 says: Sep 17, 2012 11:02 AM

    The Lions are cheap? You better watch your own right tackle who comes and pushes people after the play on almost every play. Whistle is blown and he hits someone in the back.

    Refs missed a lot on both sides and I agree that Smith hit should have been flagged, but so should the one against Stafford where he slid then got nailed in the helmet. Or the Titus Young PI play in the endzone. Where the defender threw two hands into his helmet and smashed him to the ground. How is that not a defenseless receiver? Should have been offsetting penalties. Huge run by Manningham – Lacey was trying to get away from his block to make the play but couldn’t because the blocker was tugging the back of his jersey like a kid trying to drag their parents to the toy section.

    How bout the biggest one of all, the game clock expiring in the first quarter before the last play that resulted in a PI call in the endzone?

    The refs sucked all weekend, but I’m still not happy with the effort the Lions offense put into this game. Something is off with Stafford and if he doesn’t pick it up, we won’t win many games. Titus just giving up on his route into the endzone that would have been a TD is shameful. Hurts worse since we missed the FG afterwards. The defense played ok, especially missing 3/4 of the starting secondary.

  18. barnesaintnoble says: Sep 17, 2012 11:03 AM

    Really Alex Smith? If you can’t even take any contact then don’t run the ball – you aren’t at Utah in the Mountain West anymore. You got hit by a special teams player (Wendling) who had to play safety because of injuries to the Lion’s secondary. It looked like he did his best to jump over you and avoid contact but his knee got you in the helmet. Get up, get a bandage and get back in.

    Also, Titus Young is a bad player and once Ryan Broyles gets caught up with the O I hope Young gets cut. Did you see that TD he would have had if he would have kept running?

  19. billb49 says: Sep 17, 2012 11:08 AM

    “They catch teams on the right day and get lucky. Fluke.”???!!!

    Unbelievable! And fans like this call the Niners and their coaches “whiners.” Gosh, lucky flukes two weeks in a row! A lucky fluke at Lambaugh and now another one at the Stick. And, next week, we can only hope for another lucky fluke in Minnesota!

    Hey Niner haters. You can talk about whining all you want, but what I saw is a smiling Alex Smith with a bloody bridge of the nose. He wasn’t crying. He was smiling. And I saw Vernon get poked in the eye, sit out for a while and come back to score touchdowns. Yes, yes, I know – lucky, fluke touchdowns.

  20. hyzers says: Sep 17, 2012 11:13 AM

    If the 9ers are going to call the Lions cheap just because they couldn’t put them away before halftime then I’m gonna call out Delanie Walker’s constant holding all night, especially on the edges.

  21. kidmidas says: Sep 17, 2012 11:16 AM

    You guys have to realize the media can spin a story any which way they want. Put a mic in front of Stafford’s face and ask about late hits and he’d look like a “whiner” too. Everyone that plays sports has complained about their opponent at one time or another.

  22. beedubyatoo says: Sep 17, 2012 11:19 AM

    So Joe Staley thinks he has to be aware of the Lion’s cheap shots because “they think it makes them physical.”

    Is this the same Joe Staley who had at least 2 uncalled false starts against Green Bay because that’s the only way he can block Clay Matthews?

  23. klunge says: Sep 17, 2012 11:21 AM

    In a game considered a “litmus test” for the Lions, they unfortunately came out pink instead of blue. Harbaugh is a contemptible putz, whines even when the calls go his way, and gets alot of credit for a team built by his predecessor. That said, they showed up prepared to defend the home turf and got it done. The final score was close to last year’s game but this game wasn’t played anywhere near as close.

    I guess you could describe the Lions as having a bad game plan that they executed well. Sad realization for us fans but they simply aren’t ready to go the distance yet.

  24. ramal1dw says: Sep 17, 2012 11:25 AM

    They were guilty of it, too. Stafford went to slide in the fourth quarter, was down and had contact made, when another 49er came thru with a shoulder shot to his head.

    For being such a good team, the Niners sure do whine a lot. You got the win with no major injuries. What else do you want?

  25. billb49 says: Sep 17, 2012 11:25 AM

    “They think highly of themselves,” 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis said. “I heard they said they were the best D-line in the league or something. I feel that’s disrespectful to other good defensive lines.”

  26. footballchic777 says: Sep 17, 2012 11:26 AM

    Actually thought it was a good non-call on both QB hits. If Smith wants to run, he has to start his slide before the player actually starts his tackle. And the Stafford one was closer to needing a call, but part of his “slide” was during him already being tackled. There was a guy already tackling him from behind when he was hit from the front.

  27. niner13 says: Sep 17, 2012 11:34 AM

    As in libel cases, the truth is a defense. The Lions are cheap shot artists. And that’s the truth.

  28. rd3777 says: Sep 17, 2012 11:41 AM

    They can whine all they want all the way to the Super Bowl. Go Niners!

    The rest of you haters, good luck.

  29. goldrush36 says: Sep 17, 2012 11:45 AM

    Stafford was hit as he tried to slide then contact was made by a 2nd defender. Perhaps he should slide before the defender is 6 inches away next time. So what about the kick to Walkers head? They definitely have a well deserved reputation but the game is over. They got the W and it was probably better just left unsaid. MJK stop making excuses for losing like everyone knew you would

  30. goldrush36 says: Sep 17, 2012 11:49 AM

    Voice your precious skins lost to the RAMS. Your talking should really be over with. I didn’t think you could possibly get more idiotic but congratulations you yet again prove me wrong

  31. rd3777 says: Sep 17, 2012 11:58 AM

    “He’s as tough as a two dollar steak,” Harbaugh said about Smith

    Harbaugh is a master at getting his team ready to play.

    Gym Shorts could learn a few things.

  32. voiceofreasonsays says: Sep 17, 2012 11:58 AM

    Just telling it like it is weather you like it or not. OK, we got a little loss. At the end of the season, I guarantee you the Redskins will be in a better place. We have a real QB and defense. Sometimes, you need little losses to put things in perspective. The 49ers have good linebackers and nothing else. They squeak by in lucky wins. Case closed.

  33. true9erfan66 says: Sep 17, 2012 12:03 PM

    Wow you guys that say 9ers are Whiney is so funny, Cause you guys think that cause they win. You didn’t mention that lions instead of admitting they got beat. Instead said oh we messed up here or there we didn’t get this call and we beat ourselves is the biggest Whiney thing you can say that’s the biggest excuse and pathtic thing a team can say is oh your not good we beat ourselves crap. So you guys can say whatever you want but the lions by not giving any credit to niners make them bigger whiners. Plus let’s think hmm Rodgers complained about refs cutler did MJD,VICK,ELI plus almost every panelist did mention on all the show how refs have been missing calls so whatever guys but it makes you guys sound even stupider to be complaining about players complaining. So enough said people hate winners and always find away to put them down.

  34. Nevis says: Sep 17, 2012 12:04 PM

    Chippy on both sides but two plays stand out as perfect examples of one Lions player in particular getting away with 2 non-called 15-yarders:

    Avril double team blocked and after getting up, hitting the Niner blocker in the head out of frustration. No call.

    Later, Collinsworth says 49ers Anthony Davis drove Avril into the ground way after the whistle — then upon replay, you can CLEARLY see Avril with both hands under Davis’ helmet, pulling him into him and falling backwards, trying to attract a phantom call.

    Davis lucky to avoid a neck injury from the kind of BS tactic.

    Bottom line, until the Lions are able to beat playoff teams, they are hype. Not calling them a bad team, but they haven’t proven anything except they can consistently beat bad teams.

  35. sourdoughsam says: Sep 17, 2012 12:06 PM

    Stafford slid head first. If they wanted to call that a late hit – then it was iffy. Smith slid the right way and took a forearm to the head. That was the whole purpose of the slide rule: a QB sliding feet first is supposed to be off-limits.

    I don’t care much either way, but those Lions fans should learn the rules. I used to feel a little empathy for them because they sucked for so long…

  36. okieviacal says: Sep 17, 2012 12:08 PM

    Personally, I thought the Niners looked like the cheapshot artists in this one. Anthony Davis got away with a lot of late hits and holds. Tons of non-called holds by the Niners on both sides of the ball.

    At least from what I saw, the Lions’ problem is that when this happens they don’t appear to adjust their game plan to take advantage of both the officiating and what the opposition is giving them.

    I don’t think the Lions are better than the Niners, but they did get hosed on a lot of key plays.

    Bottom line: Good job Niners. Just make sure you wax the Vikings and Bears too. Need to keep the NFCN race even!

  37. redandgoldhitman52 says: Sep 17, 2012 12:09 PM


  38. irishgary says: Sep 17, 2012 12:16 PM

    The lions are a classless organization, especially Schwartz. I’m surprised the Fords allows this after all of the good they have done for the Detroit area.

  39. snargi01 says: Sep 17, 2012 12:36 PM

    A couple things after reading the previous comments:

    1) Alex Smith not liking contact. No one likes getting hit in the face. But Smith didn’t go crying to the sidelines, he went back to the huddle and finished the drive with blood pouring down his face. Not like Jay Cutler who gets a boo-boo and then sits on the sideline pouting like a 3-year-old.

    2) Harbaugh inheriting his team. While it is true most of these players were there before Harbaugh arrived. He’s taken them farther than Mike Singletary ever would have.

    Listening to the hosts of the various SiriusXM NFL shows, they all like what Harbaugh is doing. Bringing old school smashmouth football back into the league.

  40. nastyniners says: Sep 17, 2012 12:47 PM

    All I heard all weak has how phony Alex Smith is and how the Lions D-line was going to dominate. Well all I witnessed was Alex balling and the Lions D-line giving up chunks at a time. Niners are for real people!

  41. 49erca says: Sep 17, 2012 12:58 PM

    San Francisco is for real: Scoreboard Baby: That’s all that’s matters

  42. nancyb3770 says: Sep 17, 2012 1:05 PM

    So Lions….. What is your deal???????It sounds like the Lions fans are bitter ones -by saying that we are a fluke?? yes, I guess, that is why we were 13-3 last year-a fluke. See you during playoff season if you can keep up.

  43. pop562 says: Sep 17, 2012 2:05 PM

    People are getting upset and voicing their frustration. That’s understandable. All in all, the Niners are bringing back the old school football and taking down these pass happy divas. If you want to win against the Niners…look at film and play their style of football. Run with some play action, short passes to keep the defense on their toes, mistake free, and physical. In addition it comes down to drafting the right kind of players and coaching them well and empowering every player with positive reinforcement. The Niners are here to stay and it’s funny how people hate on success. If you work hard, you might know what success feels like.

  44. jibberator says: Sep 17, 2012 2:26 PM

    There is a HUGE difference between tackling the passer right as he throws the football and tackling a quarterback who has slid, especially concerning the NFL’s rules. When a quarterback slides you arent allowed to touch him, end of story and no excuses. If he starts sliding you better try your hardest not to hit him even if you’re in the air. Obviously these refs don’t know the rules.

  45. rickrock6661982 says: Sep 17, 2012 2:55 PM

    It’s funny that Joe Staley would say this when just right down his own offensive line, Anthony Davis is known to take cheap shots after every play.

    Harbaugh has turned this franchise and fanbase into nothing but whiners.

  46. briank1ne says: Sep 17, 2012 3:10 PM

    1975 was the last time the lions beat the niners at candlestick. I can see why all you guys are bitter and hating on the best team in the nfl. thats almost 40 yrs ago.

  47. primetime0552 says: Sep 17, 2012 4:52 PM

    sourdoughsam says:Sep 17, 2012 12:06 PM

    Stafford slid head first. If they wanted to call that a late hit – then it was iffy. Smith slid the right way and took a forearm to the head. That was the whole purpose of the slide rule: a QB sliding feet first is supposed to be off-limits.

    I don’t care much either way, but those Lions fans should learn the rules. I used to feel a little empathy for them because they sucked for so long…


    When any ball carrier(whether is a QB or not) clearly is giving himself up(like Stafford clearly was) he is considered down and any contact is considered a penaly. Guess you should learn the rules as well. Sure QBs normally slide feet first, but not always. Stafford didn’t dive head first either, he kind of collapse(which was giving himself up.) It was a penalty by rule(okay with the non call though as a Lions fan, it was close enough.) The Alex Smith one should have been called as well, but was missed. Alex Smith one wouldn’t be as big of a deal if it didn’t draw blood, but because it did it becomes magnified. You shouldn’t call people out for not knowing the rules, when you dont realize that a runner giving themself up is considered down…..

  48. dyna5ty says: Sep 17, 2012 6:27 PM

    Here me out on this. I’m a huge 9ers fan. Now I’ll be the first to say that we are whining a bit too much. Every week it’s something. I’d like us to just play and go home.

    Now to all the others who say we’re a fluke. Are you kidding me!? We have the best defense in the league. Alex smith is looking more and more comfortable every week. Our running game is unstoppable. Give us our respect we deserve. It’s not a fluke. Our team has a championship defense and an offense that can now win games.

  49. sixjak says: Sep 17, 2012 7:34 PM

    rickrock6661982 says:
    Sep 17, 2012 2:55 PM
    It’s funny that Joe Staley would say this when just right down his own offensive line, Anthony Davis is known to take cheap shots after every play.

    Harbaugh has turned this franchise and fanbase into nothing but whiners.


    Oh snap! Is that what’s happened here? I feel so betrayed and duped by Hairbow. Freak he’s turned us all in to NOTHING MORE than whiners. Oh and the 9ers are winning too but what does that matter when you deal in the world of hyperbole and denial?

    The Lions impressed me and played better than I thought they would. They are a good team. That said there is a common denominator in both AR and MS looking not quite right or out of sync. It’s called the 9ers defense.

  50. ninertownusa says: Sep 17, 2012 11:29 PM

    Irony is hilarious. All these people complaining about the Niners whining are, by definition, doing exactly that themselves. Hurl all the insults, excuses, barbs, and rants you want… none of it will change the fact that the 49ers are tied for the league’s best record through the first two weeks of the season. Whether (not “weather,” sports fans) that lasts remains to be seen, but I’ll be watching and rooting for my 49ers throughout.

  51. patriot375 says: Sep 18, 2012 10:40 AM

    lmao-oh no! I got poked in the eye! ….I’m not sure it was intentional or not…lol. Oh jeeze, my nose got a tiny cut on it-I guess I’ll leave the blood there so ppl know HOW TOUGH I am…lol. Oh brother, no wonder you’re from SF…Give me a break.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!