Harbaugh raises concerns over talk of hitting Kaepernick


Last year, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll suspected that 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was seeking help from the officials by raising questions about the limits of permissible contact against receivers.  Packers coach Mike McCarthy may now suspect that Harbaugh is doing the same thing regarding the limits of permissible contact against quarterbacks.

On multiple occasions this week, Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews has talked about the importance of hitting a mobile quarterback, something the Steelers did successfully last year in containing Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

“It looks as if as long as that quarterback is carrying out that fake, he loses his right as a pocket passer and rules that govern that,” Matthews told Bay Area reporters in a Wednesday conference call, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.  “We’ll see the hits that are legal and what’s not legal, but we think our game plan fits within the scheme of the officials and what we want to do.”

On Tuesday, Matthews made similar remarks in an appearance on ESPN Radio.

“You do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they’re too important to their offense,” Matthews said, via Maiocco.  “If that means [coaches] pull them out of that type of offense and make them run a traditional, drop-back, pocket-style offense, I think that’s exactly what we’re going for.  So you want to put hits as early and often on the quarterback and make them uncomfortable.”

Harbaugh doesn’t care for those comments.

“You’re hearing a lot of tough talk right now,” Harbaugh said Wednesday.  “You’re hearing some intimidating type of talk — kind of things we were hearing a couple years ago.”

Harbaugh is referring, presumably, to the cartoonish remarks from former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams regarding a desire to inflict injury on members of the 49ers offensive during a January 2012 playoff game.

“[It] sounds a lot like targeting a specific player,” Harbaugh said.  “You definitely start to wonder.  A man usually doesn’t tell you his bad intentions.  You know what’s being said publicly, not what’s being said privately.  I hope their intent is not going to be anything that’s not within the rules.”

Kaepernick seems to be far less concerned.

“I’m not worried about that,” Kaepernick said. “It’s football.  You’re going to get hit.”

Kaepernick is right, in theory.  But he can afford to be nonchalant about the prospect of getting hit.  Before he can be hit, he has to be caught.  And the Packers showed last year that they haven’t quite figured out how to do that.

117 responses to “Harbaugh raises concerns over talk of hitting Kaepernick

  1. Matthews is talking about how the rules change when the QB leaves the pocket. That’s not the same as putting a bounty on someone. Shame on Harbaugh for trying to spin it that way.

  2. I think this is the best defensive line Green Bay has had since their SB season. And now they have Nick Perry back at OLB instead of that stiff Walden. So I give the Packers a shot to keep this game close well into the 4th.

  3. The whole “pistol/read option” thing is gonna fade because the QB’s are gonna get hit ’till the echo of the whistle…every play.

    In Kap’s case…no problem. He has a cannon, can stay in the pocket and will punish defenses regardless.

    But put RG3 on the endangered species list.

  4. Good. I hope these flashy, one-pass read QBs are knocked into the middle of next season.

  5. If they start hitting the read option QBs too often after they hand the ball off instead of running with it, they are going to start throwing flags.

    If they are running with the ball, they are fair game but in the pocket, it should just be like a play action pass.

  6. Seriously?
    Man up Harbaugh. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you are going to play the read option offense, your quarterback is going to get hit.

  7. It’s true, if the QB is pretending to hold the ball, they can knock his socks off, just like if he chooses to run downfield and block.

    Go get em

  8. “I hope their intent is not going to be anything that’s not within the rules”

    Shooting people, beating team mates with beer bottles…

    As long as it suits you – right, Jim?

  9. Does Mathews know that using the same logic Niners D can beat the crap out of Rodgers every time he hands the ball right?

    With their pathetic OL thats more of a possibility than Packers sniffing Kaep.

  10. if hes running out of the pocket, hes a ball carrier just as a running back say, the defense should be able to tackle him as such the same. if you dont want him to take a hit, better make your rb carry the ball then.

  11. Harbaugh needs to stop crying. Defense has always been about hitting the QB early and often. Stop trying to get an advantage by being a little pansy about it in the media. And if you don’t like your QB taking hits then don’t run the option. Someone’s getting awfully entitled for a guy who got denighed a Super Bowl ring two years in a row.

  12. I wonder if Harbaugh would prefer that Kaep wear flags instead?

    If you run your QB, then you need to accept the fact that he’s going to get hit. That’s obvious, and claiming that it’s on par with a bounty system is just silly.

  13. option quarterback that runs the pistol is a runner and will be treated as such. he loses QB protections and they should not be allowed to slide. I cant wait until one of these guys gets lit up.

  14. Bad intentions? Everyone knows the goal for any pass rusher is to get some knocks on the QB. And any QB that is running with the ball is a running back, and everyone knows how hard they get hit. Unless Harbaugh instructs his defensive players to hug the guy with the ball and gently lay him on the turf, he should shut up.

  15. I think its Mathews that should be concerend about getting PANCAKED again by the Niner O-Line.

  16. Dont worry Kaep, you wont be touched by the Packers D this week. In fact, you can go out there without your helmet and pads if you want.

  17. You don’t get special privileges juat because you run a gimmick offense. Why wouldn’t a QB be fair game in that situation?

  18. When he played QB for the Colts he was always looking for the officials to throw the flag if someone got within 3 feet of him, kind of like Brady does with the Pats. Bill

  19. You mean you can’t even say that you gonna hit a player now. Ok so go out there and hit someone as hard as you can but by all means don’t tell anyone that’s your intention. Hahaha. Harbough your such a chump. No no please don’t hit my quarterback.

  20. If Harbaugh needs the refs to save his poor little QB, then he shouldn’t play him – or shouldn’t let him run. What a whiner! Matthews was talking STRATEGY, not threats, and Harbaugh knows it. What a whiner.

  21. The only thing that needs to be forestalled is the intentional tackling of the quarterback if the defender knows he doesn’t have the ball.

    It is a clear strategy being developed to ignore the runner and tackle the QB whether or not he has the ball.

    The league might as well state now whether it will consider such strategy within the rules. What if the QB hands off and holds his hands up to show he doesn’t have the ball, is he still subject to a pile driving tackle because at one point he was a runner outside the pocket?

    I don’t really care which way the rule is, just tell us before the season starts.

  22. I think if Goodel wants to be consisten on his whole saftey thing then he should have a talk with Mr Mathews about his “tough Guy” comments lol
    But on a serious not, whats up Packers still salty after that embarassment you guys showed last time we played you guys?

  23. Getting hit means the Packers would actually have to touch Kaepernick, something they didn’t do last year until the post-game handshakes.

  24. Sounds like comments from the gay community in San Francisco. I guess the next thing this whining coach will ask the NFL if it’s ok for Kaep to wear the red jersey so they won’t hit his QB.

  25. Kaep wont make it through a full season running away from defenders…he wont be so lucky this year. Dont believe me, ask RG3.

    Hope he learned how to make good reads….otherwise its a gimmick of a career.

    Aaron Rodgers could teach how to make reads…thats a TRUE QB.

  26. What’s up with this other Harbaugh?

    Matthews was clearly talking about defending against the read-option not targeting any specific player. Was that some kind of veiled reference to a player bounty Jimbo just offered up?

    Defenses are going to figure away to negate it. Can’t have your read-option cake and eat it too, Coach.

  27. Harbaugh is trying to curry favor with the refs before the game even starts. Shut up already.

  28. QB’s are the lifeblood of the NFL. Too many hits on QB’s, rules will change. Audiences want to see offense, not defense. Sorry defenses, you’ll lose out again.

  29. Expect to see a lot of corner blitzes by GB and a roaming Clay Matthews spying, blitzing and “Winning” all over the field.

    Going to be a good game, can’t wait.

  30. The funny thing is people thing the Niners will come out and try to zone read a defense that got embarrassed by it last year. We know the Packers have learned some things over summer school. Too bad they won’t apply when the Niners chose not to run it zone read at a defense anticipating zone read. The great thing about Kap is the zone read is not the offense. It’s merely a single play. You can game plan to stop 1 play if you like, the Niners have the rest of the base offense they can utilize.

  31. Sounds fair. Hit the QB. Sounds like what a blitz is defined as. He fakes and leaves the pocket than he is just as much a ball carrier as the next guy unless Harbaugh expects the D to avoid him. That would be weird to watch.

  32. Can anyone image Harbaugh bringing his team back for the extra point if it was the Niners on the wrong end of the deal in the Fail Mary game against Seahawks. Think about that for a bit.

    I wonder what his demeanor would have been.

  33. Kaep is a big dude he can lower the boom too I’m sure. This isn’t some little boy your going to hit. You are either the hammer or the nail you choose which.

  34. The d lines job is to sack qb’s for negative yards and stop conversions, not hurt the player. Hb’s only concern was the way Mathews was talking about hurting the guy for the season is something to be ashamed of.

  35. Is Habaugh joking? Nothing that was said was wrong at all. The goal of the defender is to hit the QB. Always has been.

    As Belichick once said, the problem with the option in the NFL is if the QB keeps it you hit the QB and if the QB pitches it you hit the QB.

    Now the QBs feel like they can’t be hit! But if they become runners the league needs to allow them to be hit even if they get rid of it.

  36. Harbaugh is going to need him to run as they don’t have the weapons they had last year. He is such a whiner. Is he telling his defense not to hit Rodgers? So glad his brother beat him last year.

  37. As bothered as I am with Harbaugh’s comments, Packers fans shouldn’t kid themselves if he and other 49ers players talked about hitting Aaron Rodgers hard throughout the game. There would be many Packers fans, players, and staff crying foul – especially if it actually happens.

  38. If all it took to stop the zone read was to hit the QB on every play, anyone could be a defensive coordinator – even Clay Matthews. Wouldn’t you think the defense would also need to stop Frank Gore and Alfred Morris from scoring TD’s?.

  39. I like Harbaugh but he’s off base here. It wasn’t long ago that the game plan for beating the Patriots was to hit Brady and get him out of rhythm. To beat the Colts you had to hit Manning and everyone knew it and said so. How is this any different than that? Teams pay defensive players big money to hit the QB and the more you hit them the more money you make in your next contract. Is that a bounty system? What do the 49ers pay Willis for? Just stopping the run? Ridiculous.

  40. My guess is that G-Bay cuts Tolzien next Monday…

    Nobody respects a stool pigeon… Well I may stand corrected. Scotty may be picked up and cut 16 times this year. LOL…

  41. Kapernick is a big boy.

    All tatted up. All over the web and mags…..

    Get ready for the bullseye on your back…..


  42. If you guys actually watched the games or looked at the stats, you would see that of all the so-called “pistol” or “read-option” offenses, the 9ers ran it at or close to the least. Also, of the same group of offenses, Kaepernick got hit less because he most often threw the ball away or scampered out of bounds before he could take the big hit. Hate on the 9ers and Harbaugh all you want to, but it will more than likely be the RG3s, Wilsons, Newtons, and Vicks out there that will suffer an injury due to the adoption of defenses (who can’t otherwise stop these QBs) by trying to hit the QB through/after the whistle. Better be careful what you wish for fellas, karma is a biotch…

  43. They are talking about hitting Kaepernick while he’s carrying out a fake, generally as he’s fading away from the line.

    They aren’t going to land huge hits in that circumstance, and the only way for them to land that huge hit is for the OLB to abandon the running back. Or to go high, or low, or wrap him up and drive him to the ground.

    I think you’ll see some personal fouls and backs bouncing runs out wide if they exaggerate that gameplan. Either way, the Packers sound like the ones scared at this point.

  44. Truth is, the way you defend the read option is to tackle every potential ball carrier every time. If the NFL wants the read option to become the new forward pass, then they’ll protect the qb. If not, then let em play. I say let em play. If you’re gonna be a potential ball carrier, you get hit.

  45. Still laughing at jimmy for holding his hands in the air looking for a holding call in the super bowl. sorry bud officials cant always protect you.

  46. Players should probably keep their mouths shut least their comments be misunderstood/spun…whatever, to sound like they are conspiring to put “hits” on QBs in general, and particular QBs in particular. dejavu, Bountygate all over again by the squeeky clean cheeseheads! It does sound like Harbaugh has a legitimate concern that some would say is the product of his making:)

  47. Seems like there is a gray area between faking a handoff and just handing off. Can’t a 49ers defensive player slam Rodgers after he hands it off and just claim he thought it was a fake handoff?

  48. All clay should be saying is that they need to improve and not get embarrassed on national TV. I’m sure Aldon wants to crunch Rodgers a few times and make him scared. Atleast he being mature enough not to say in the media saying it. Clay you couldn’t beat Alex at home what makes you think you got a chance. You got spotted a td with the early pick 6 and still got blown out by half time with your high profile passing game held in check.

  49. It may be worth a 15 yard loss just to see Harbaugh cry, especially if were loosing Sunday. Pete Carrol is just as big a jag as Harbaugh. It must be a left coast thing. If he’s out of the pocket and moving forward he’s fair game. That’s why the QB’s make 100’s of Millions of dollars.

  50. Whether it’s the Read Option, the Veer, or the Wishbone, the defense has to be allowed to attack ALL of the options.

  51. Harbaugh is the biggest hypocrite crybaby in the nfl. Never seen a coach whine so much in my life! And his team is physical which makes him even dumber! I think he’s a perfect coach for their fans. The fans whine as much as Harbaugh and its funny!

  52. I really liked Harbaugh at one time. Now I can’t stand him. The comments had nothing to do with paying to injure someone and Harbaugh knows that. He’s just being himself again.

  53. Be worried Kaepernick, be worried. Your going to have defenses hitting you sideways this year. The second you make the decision to run, your no longer a QB.

    I’d be surprised if CK7 lasts the year as teams will be trying to take him out, literally.

  54. Matthews and the Packers D better come up a little bit bigger than they did the last two times these teams met. I think Matthews is trying to save some face. (People forget how we did the last time)

  55. Two can play the same game. Just remember your own QB has to face the the Smith brothers, Brooks, Willis, Bowmen, Whitner and Reid.

  56. Stop whining, Jim. Once a QB crosses the LOS he’s no longer a protected player. Hitting the QB is a major part of football. If you’re going to benefit from the running skills of your QB, then you have to accept the risk that comes with it.

  57. To Jim Harbaugh, I’ll give you my roster, and you will have something to whine about.
    Dennis Allen

  58. You think the 49er defense is not going to go after QBs, like Aaron Rogers?

    Come on Harbaugh…

  59. A whole season of hits in the pistol offense…tink Kordell Stewart, folks. These D coordinators are licking their chops with a whole offseason to prepare! There is a reason why the great pocket qbs play so long.

  60. Of course they are targeting Kaepernick. You always target the other team’s QB. Maybe not to injure, but definitely to hit the guy. Happens at every level of football.

  61. i hate the Packers and Matthews, but what he said is just fine. he didn’t say anything wrong. he talked about containing the QB and making a hit on him when they run the option read, that’s what you are supposed to do or you will get burned.

  62. Everyone talks about the Packer’s O-line being so horrible. Could we at least wait till they play ONE REGULAR SEASON GAME before we come to this conclusion?? Perhaps this is just wishful thinking from the Packer haters.

  63. bigredgoog says: Sep 4, 2013 8:23 PM

    The only thing that needs to be forestalled is the intentional tackling of the quarterback if the defender knows he doesn’t have the ball.

    It is a clear strategy being developed to ignore the runner and tackle the QB whether or not he has the ball.

    The league might as well state now whether it will consider such strategy within the rules. What if the QB hands off and holds his hands up to show he doesn’t have the ball, is he still subject to a pile driving tackle because at one point he was a runner outside the pocket?

    I don’t really care which way the rule is, just tell us before the season starts.

    Seriously?? Did you just now start watching football?? From pee wee to high school to college and to the pros, if you run play action fake or option or wing tee or any offense where you pretend to have the ball…you are not protected from getting lit up. Ever. hat’s why no on does it anymore. It’s always been that way and probably will until mid season when Kaep and Wilson and a few others running this new wrinkle get waxed for the year and the NFL will change that rule too.

    I’ve said this since Cunningham got smacked, since Culpepper got bounced, when Vick started getting lit up, and when RGknee went hard down….this league is too tough for a running QB. Remember when Bradshaw and Jimmie Johnson talked to Shawn King, Akili Smith, Vick, and Culpepper on a Fox pregame special about how their legs were going to change the game about 10-12 years ago?? Half the RB’s in this league are knocked out early and have much more shorter careers. The running/option QB will be a short-lived experiment under the big lights. Book it.

  64. IMHO, if they offer any protection to the QB for this run-option they should eliminate the QB-slide.

    The power and protection they are giving the QB, coupled with the incredible athletes that are playing the QB position now, will turn the NFL into the NBA where one person can dominate a game. Football is a team game. That should never change.

    The QB protection rules were intended to protect a fragile pocket passer, much smaller than the other players usually, who occasionally would scamper for a few yards. We now have behemoth QBs with world-class speed who are abusing those rules.

    Simple rules – QB steps out of that pocket and they are a runner, pure and simple.

  65. wonder if whiner jim will feel the same when his 9ers go play russell wilson and that read option.. next week.. c’mon whiner if you run your qb they should be able to get hit.. duh…

  66. Ok…Clay Mathews can talk about hitting Kaepernick all he wants that’s just bs talk cuz they got scorched last year on his record setting performance…now I’m pretty sure as intelligent as Harbaugh an Greg Roman are there not gonna go into the game with the same game plan as last year cuz we all no all preseason the packers an the rest of the league are preparing as hard as they can in stopping the read option…but what you all are failing to realize is CK has one of the livest arms in the nfl an he’s not a running qb like Griffen…now back to the Mathews comments …He messed up by talking smack before a game about an opposing teams qb..lmao when ur QB will be facing the most gifted hardest hitting defence in all of football.. Congratulations Clay Mathews … You just hung your QB out to dry… Aaron Rodgers is the QB who will be getting hit all game…..

  67. How are they going to hurt CK. Last year they didn’t lay a finger on him . Now all of a sudden they are magically going to get to him early and often.

    9ers d have a way better chance of getting through that weak gb O-line. should have spent all season practicing how to Stop 9ers pass rush.

    sf is just way deeper talent wise won with Alex smith and Ck7 last last year.

    Clay Mathews ” Oh i get it , we should hit the Qb.” Isn’t that your job? And all the fans acting like he just invented the wheel. Super funny.

  68. That hit was FLAGRANT. There is no place for hits like that in Today’s “bounty-less” league. You would think Goodell’s NFL would have issued a harsh punishment? PLAYER SAFETY? I THINK NOT!

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