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.