Jim Harbaugh sees problems with rules on read-option quarterbacks

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The NFL attempted to clarify its rules about how defenses can attack read-option quarterbacks by saying publicly that those quarterbacks are treated as runners unless it is clear that they are no longer in a running posture. But 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who has expressed concerns about opposing teams going after quarterback Colin Kaepernick, says he’s not sold on the NFL’s explanation of its rules.

“I know what the rules are, I know how they’ve been explained, but there’s still some gray area,” Harbaugh said. “When you start using words like ‘clearly’ — he clearly doesn’t have the ball — what does that really mean? I just handed off, I don’t have the ball, he’s got the ball, put your hands up? There’s a bit of a gray area there.”

Harbaugh said the rule would make more sense if it said that quarterbacks were protected in the pocket even if they’re in a running posture.

“To me, he’s a quarterback until he leaves the pocket as a running threat,” Harbaugh said. “I think it’s flawed, the way they’ve got it now.”

Harbaugh doesn’t like the idea that a quarterback who is running the read option can be hit even if he has handed off or pitched the ball.

“Treat him like a running back?” Harbaugh said. “You’re opening a license to hit him outside the strike zone. I’m entitled to my opinion, that’s why I answered the question. I think it’s flawed and I think it’s biased.”

Whether Harbaugh likes it or not, however, that’s the rule. And when Kaepernick is running the read option, he’s going to get hit.

179 responses to “Jim Harbaugh sees problems with rules on read-option quarterbacks

  1. Harbaugh is the Chief Whiner over the 40-Whiners!

    Enough of this clown.

    Seattle is going to hurt them badly anyway, so the point is moot.

  2. What you don’t want him to be able to be hit while faking a run? Why? That way when you actually do utilize the QB as a runner the defense second guesses whether or not to hit him? There is one word for that PATHETIC! All he is trying to do is create an unfair advantage for his team and or CHEAT. What a whiny lil baby, someone go change his diaper.

  3. When will this fool stop whining? It’s the rules dude…..if you want your QB to not get hit then keep him in the pocket. Put a skirt on him.!!

  4. Jim, is it ok if they still play tackle football ? Sorry, but if you don’t want your QB to get hit, don’t use him as a running threat.

  5. Don’t worry Harbaugh, NFL will change the rule when their darling QB RG3 is hit on knees by a defender trying break his knees.

    Then NFL will immediately change the rule.

  6. That’s garbage and he knows it. Kapaernick can manipulate the rules by holding the ball up as a passer to freeze the defense and then take off. If he comes laterally down the line—dude’s a runner.

  7. Of course he sees it that way. Tough tooshy, that’s what the competition commitee is for in the off-season. A day late and a dollar short.

  8. No matter what you think of Jim, he’s right that there is grey area about the rule. Until they devise some kind of “fair catch” signal, the legality of the hit will always be up to a judgement call by the ref.

  9. It’s a rope-a-dope for the Pack. I’ll bet the total number of read option plays will be less than five . . . because they won’t need it.

  10. I agree that Harbaugh can be a huge crybaby. But I have no issue with his… issue. By nature, judgment calls are somewhat ambiguous. His point about the word “clearly”, as it pertains to the rule in question, is a valid one.

    The better question is, what happens when Brady or Manning get drilled running an option play, especially when there’s almost zero chance they’ll ever run with the ball? Do officials follow the rule “to the letter”, or will Brady, Manning, et al. be treated as traditional pocket passers? We shall see.

  11. Hate to jump on the whole “whining” bandwagon here, but there really is no other word for this guy.

    He definitely fits in with his team’s fan base.

  12. Joke all you want about Harbaugh….he’s laughing all the way to the bank and makes a valid argument here.

    ….and oh yeah, while the Niners are deep in the playoffs, pretty sure most of your teams will be watching it on TV from home.

  13. The whole point of carrying out a FAKE, is to FAKE people out, ruh-tard…. Don’t carry out a FAKE if you don’t want to take the chance of being hit playing football…

  14. The quarter back is a FOOTBALL PLAYER, last I checked. The special rules this position garners is a joke. Yeah, I know, knock a QB out and its a game changer, guess what? Protect your QB! That’s what pawns do in chess. Don’t protect your most important piece? Tough.

  15. I hate to agree with hairball, but as I understand the definition a QB running play action, a boot leg, or sprint out should not be protected either. They do need to clarify it.

  16. So he wants the defense to be fooled into thinking the QB is running with the ball, but get a 15 yard penalty if the defense does what they normally do to someone they think is running with the ball.

    Yeah, sounds completely fair. What a jackhole.

  17. I wish he would wait until they fail to meet expectations (which they will) before he starts whining dudes a good coach but always crying you’re qb is going to get hit when he’s making explosive plays he should have kept that bum Alex Smith nobody wanted to hit him because next man up was always a better option

  18. Like H or not he makes a good point. This is a gray area that hasn’t been effectively addressed in the NFL until now. But does this rule apply to ANY QB that performs a fake or just to Kaep (since he is the ONLY running QB apparently).

    People think all Kaep can do is run run run, but at Nevada he smoked defenses in the air too!

    SF 38 GB 17
    (Gameball goes to Kaep w 5 TDs thrown…)

  19. Niners fan here. The point is Kaepernick is not worried by the rule change and is not complaining, so harbaugh should keep his mouth shut. If his qb doesn’t have a problem with it, he shouldn’t have a problem with it.

  20. Kinda takes away form the 49ers reputation as a tough team when their coach is constantly crying like a baby.

    On one hand he’s a grown man so I’d like to think it’s just clever strategy on his part. On the other hand if you’ve ever heard an interview or press conference with him you’d know that it’s not, he is just a chode.

  21. Why didn’t Harbaugh and the 49ers make this an issue in the winter meetings?

    H e knew Kaep’s skill set, the risks involved and the need to look make back-up QBs a draft or trade priority.!

    Why wait until the last minute unless you are playing the refs??????

  22. I am a Seahawks fan. If Russell Wilson hands off and fakes the run and gets hit, then we should be careful how often we run the read option. It’s perfectly fair to hit the QB whose faking the run.

    RB’s get plastered ALL THE TIME on fake handoffs. We don’t consider them ‘defenseless’ now do we?

  23. Its funny how many idiotic Seattle fans are jumping on Harbaugh.

    You do know that Russel Wilson plays a similar game right? Right?

    The defenses can and will take shot at Wilson regardless of whether he is running or not.

  24. What about on a qb draw. Its obviously a run but qb is still in the pocket. What r u supposed to wait till he crosses the line of scrimmage. Harbaugh its football people get hit quirt crying.

  25. I know the Packers were going to bring along some cheese to go with Harbaugh’s whine, but if he keeps going, they may need to charter a second airplane to bring enough.

    Honestly, all the NFL did was confirm that the rule should be enforced the exact same way it ‘s been in the past. If Harbaugh is scared his precious QB is going to get hurt, maybe he shouldn’t have him fake handoff so much.

  26. I totally agree with Coach Harbaugh. The NFL “talks” player safety but then leaves gray areas open to interpretation? When it’s open season on read option QBs are we going to have another soap opera like Bountygate because read option QBs have been hit? Even Payton Manning hinted that we might see a little read option from the Broncos at some point in the season and I’m betting if Manning gets laid out there will be a major uproar and the game will be changed so drasticly as to be uncognizeable. The time to clarify this and make this issue clear to all is now, not wait till somebody has a season ending injury. Colin Kaepernick is not the only QB who could be effected!

  27. Every time the Clown Car pulls up…Jimmy is the first one out!
    I don’t hear any of the other coaches whining about this…
    Jimmy must think he’s special…
    Pick your lip up and play ball!

  28. Two people are running. One has the ball. The defense doesn’t know which one has it (by design of the offensive play), therefore the defense has to be allowed to tackle both players. I don’t see how much simpler this rule can be put.

  29. This is beyond absurd. How much of an advantage do you possibly want? If you don’t want your QB taking shots…then don’t put him into positions that will allow such a shot. No one is making you do it. It’s a risk reward scenario. Choose your own fate.

  30. It’s almost as if Harbaugh is upset that he won’t have an unfair advantage by choosing a read-option running qb for the franchise. I’m not a hater, I like Kaep, but the rule is fair and makes sense.

  31. He thinks the rule is biased? Let’s examine that claim:

    The rule takes into account mechanics, safety, and vulnerability. It is applied across all QBs.

    The coach takes in to account his QB, his playbook, and his team’s success. His opinion is informed only by his team.

    You tell me which is biased. You tell me which is more subjective.

    I love this: a whiny Harbaugh wants his QB to be protected not only when he’s throwing but also when he’s RUNNING. He’s that 8 year old who throws a tantrum when his QB is sacked in Madden, only he’s a grown man making millions of dollars and pouting very publicly.

  32. The NFL’s new rules only make it worst and harder to enforce by introducing ambiguous language. The refs already struggle with basic stuff.

    What’s the difference between a running posture and a throwing posture? Are guys not able to run straight up? or throw while on the move? Or if you stand like a statue you’re fine, any other stance you’re fair game.

    What defines the “read option?” How is it any different that draw plays or play action from shotgun formation? Or they only going to apply read option for the likes of Colin, Wilson, RGIII etc but something else for pocket passers like Peyton, Brady, Eli, etc.

  33. I don’t entirely understand this, I mean I get why he would want to protect his guy, but he is the coach of a team with one of the fiercest defenses in the NFL.

    Does he want Aldon and Justin Smith getting hammered with penalties so Russell Wilson and RG3 can safely run the read option too?

  34. The same rules apply when any QB’s runs with the ball, it just so happens your QB runs more.

    Why not pass a rule (another) to protect the blind side of a QB in the pocket, the defender instead of creaming him, just has to tap him on the shoulder and he is down.

    What a whining 49er dog. Whiners.

  35. 4949centennial says: Sep 6, 2013 7:24 PM

    Its funny how many idiotic Seattle fans are jumping on Harbaugh.

    You do know that Russel Wilson plays a similar game right? Right?

    The defenses can and will take shot at Wilson regardless of whether he is running or not.


    Ya, Carroll knows that, but you don’t hear him crying about it.

  36. As if defenses weren’t trying to hit him last season, Kaepernick took licks.

    He is not small nor frail, having said that with the questionable nature of our back up QB’s I don’t see Roman using many read option plays this year. And it’s like he has to, Kaep is still dangerous from the pocket. But you turds keep spouting off against a team that is superior to your, and after last night I can confidently say including the Ravens.

    GO NINERS!!!!!

  37. It’s simple – if you don’t want your QB treated as a runner, don’t have him run.

    If you want him to run like a running back, then he’ll get the same protection that players like Adrian Peterson get – NONE!

  38. So basically he wants to make it illegal to sack a QB.

    More broadly speaking, if he has a gripe about the rules then he should take it up with the competition committee during the offseason, not whine through the media after the season has already started.

  39. Not generally a fan of Harbaugh and his histrionics on the sideline, but I agree with him here to some degree. The impression being given is that if you do a read option handoff or you hold the ball to pass it’s a free fire zone on the QB.. yet similar deception via play action does not. The QB shouldn’t be treated like a RB while in the pocket because before, during and after the snap, the QB is surveying the entire field, while RB’s are first searching for a hole or following a certain blocking scheme so they can have a better field of vision against defenders. QB’s are blinded because of their primary downfield focus.

  40. Don’t treat your QB like a RB and the refs won’t treat your QB like a RB and then the other team can’t treat your QB like a RB.

  41. So he’s whining because he’s sharing his opinion to a question asked of him. He ain’t got to like da damn rule. He has a point, it’s biased and the referees will treat it bias. Not only are mobile QBs running the read opt, but pocket passers can and will too. Bet they won’t treat the QBs the same. So I don’t have a problem with what he’s saying. We all know da NFL got some biased and screwed up rules

  42. A lot of people didn’t read this post. His main concern is that he wants a definition for “clearly”. what one ref defines as a legal another might call the same play as illegal. That’s the problem overall and it’s not just that rule.

  43. Lol most of y’all can’t conprehend lmao. He’s not saying his QB shouldn’t be allowed to be sacked, but if the footballs out his hands, they should not be able to hit da Qb, PERIOD! Just like the rules have been for years to protect the QB(defenseless player)..Discipline your slow ass defensive line and linebackers how to properly stop the read opt but to impose a rule is petty as hell by the NFL.

  44. I have rarely observed a more whiny or pathetic head coach for an nfl team than this particular harbaugh. I would like to think that anything he says is taken by the league as such and ignored for what it is – which is an attempt to play a sympathy card for his flash in the pan offense…just watch.

  45. How else could this actually be handled? Have defenders just wave at Kaepernick as he runs by on his way to the end zone? And if the NFL did take his advice, how long would it take Harbaugh to whine out of the other side of his month when it was his guys getting flagged for hitting Russell Wilson?

  46. What our friend Jim is trying to say is that other teams have figured out how limited Kaep is at reading defenses and that sooner or later his major edge in running is going to get him drilled and more than likely injured.

    And when that happens he wont have a legit pocket passer to fall back on in Alex Smith.

    So to Jim, the rules are not fair.

  47. If you insist on running the read option offense, prepare to have your QB hit hard & hit often. Oh yeah – make sure you have a really good backup QB or two.

  48. @ bmoreraven

    That’s two for two now you showed up on a non Denver beating the crap out of your team article. Instead you’re on a Niner related story, sadly for you our team remains an elite unit while the Ravens and your overrated overpaid QB were exposed in proper fashion last night.


  49. of course he has a problem his QB is inevitably going to get his clock cleaned and be out for awhile. i don’t here any of the traditional QB teams complaining about this.

  50. Funny cause no matter what people say most NFL teams would give up anything to have Haurbagh as their coach..

  51. Just ‘high-low’ block any d lineman that hits the QB after the handoff. Yeah, you’ll get 15, but the lineman will get very worried about doing it again.

  52. SF is much more a read-option team than Seattle. Seattle has a true rotation of RBs and more a run first approach from split-back positions. SF is using the read-option to offset its mediocre RBs and have Kap run the ball LIKE A RB.

    Kap got his hat handed to him in the SB…and I guess we will see if teams can keep him off-balance. Don’t lump Seattle in your dilemma.

  53. Has he never watched a handoff get blown up in the backfield? This rule isn’t about the read option. It’s about passing vs not passing…

  54. How is he wearing out his welcome when he just took his team to the Super Bowl. He can take 90% of the coaches jobs in the league. You straight tripping

  55. albinorhino49 says:
    Sep 6, 2013 8:46 PM
    Most teams wish they had Kaep or Harbaugh. Good hates Best!
    You nailed it. Except for a small handful of fans, these guys wish they were us.

    Matthews said that the Packers want to turn Kaep into a ‘pocket passer’? Beware of what you wish for.

    Best part is that Kaep and Harbaugh will be around together for a long time.

  56. Success breeds contempt and J.H. is very successful. If I’m an opposing coach I tell my guys “hit em” until flagged. When in doubt …hit. That is what the Ravens did and the laundry was not happening in that game as we all know. Let’s have a great season an leave all this trivial B.S. behind.

  57. Harbaugh knows the season is over if Kaep goes down, he has no back up to him at all. He is running scared.

    This is really embarrassing to see him try and manipulate the ref’s so he can get flags called if his princess gets tackled to hard.

    Is college football passing regulations to protect college QB’s that run, are they getting hurt more than pocket passers? NO!!! This offense came from college football before you were born Jim. You have a great QB athlete that you don’t want hurt, but don’t squeal like a pig to get the ref’s to change rules for you.

    Tim Tebow is available if your princess goes down, I saw him run and get hit a lot more than kaep ever will.

  58. This will honestly effect Wilson and rg3 more cause they are dependent on it unlike kaepernick is another threat. Kaepernick more of a threat to run once the pass play broke down and he escapes for a first down. I do believe this rule doesn’t clearly line out whats legal or isn’t. So if you tell me Brady fakes to the FB and pitches to RB or play fakes then he longer protected. That’s bs cause if Peyton or Brady ever gets hit hard then a flag is coming.

  59. Coach Harbaugh, it’s called football and yes “all of you’re players are targets” not just your QB. The NFL can arrange for your QB to be outfitted in a dress with high heels if that would help you

  60. There’s a reason the NFL stopped having running QB’s 40 years ago. Guesses anyone? Can’t wait to see Colt McCoy running Hardheads offense in week 3.

  61. Of course Jim, surely the NFL doesn’t want more of the read-option QBs in the league. They want the traditional, statuesque, pocket passer that they’ve changed the rules for to ensure their success. Think about it, pass interference, illegal contact, in the grasp, tuck-rule, etc., all those rules were directly and indirectly put in place so that the QB could shine. However, they failed to realize that as players got BIGGER, stronger and faster, the athleticism of defensive linemen, let alone LBs, makes it practically necessary to have a mobile QB.

  62. Lots of trash talking going on….I like it.

    I think anyone that has been around for awhile knows that Dom Capers, Kevin Green and crew are not hacks as defensive minds. Having eight months to prepare, getting Neil, Jolly, Perry back as well as drafting Jones (who is making waves) will toughen the unit.

    The Packers D was 11 overall last year, up from 31st. This won’t be a walk in the park for the 9ers and they know it.

    Listen to Harbaugh trying to warn refs and complain through the media before the season even starts. He’s scared….no other excuse for his ranting.

    If anyone was inclined to bet, I would advise betting against the Packers here.

    It’s going to be a great game

  63. Kaep can’t handle a pocket passer role.

    Why do you think they don’t use him as a pocket passer? It isn’t because he is good at it.

    Albinorhino49, you can have both of them. I wouldn’t want either kaep as a qb or (either) harbaugh as a coach. Kaep is about as one-dimensional as a qb can get.

    The rule is a straightforward as many of the other rules in the NFL. That is why they have officials.

    If you are running a “read” option and the defense can’t determine who has the ball tacking the qb is fair if he is acting like he has the ball and is trying to make yardage.

    If the QB stops pretending that he has the ball the defense can be penalized for hitting the QB.

  64. Am I the old man here in saying,”If you don’t want to get hit, don’t play football.”

  65. I have to agree with Harbaugh on this, clarify the rule better, if the QB is still in the backfield and not running you shouldn’t be allowed to hit him just cause YOU THINK he might have the ball, if that’s the case then you should be able to hit a pocket QB like Manning he fakes a hand off on a play action pass, never know he may decide to run….
    My point is I see a lot of trouble coming from this fights, dirty hits etc…
    Because I tell you now if a team like the Broncos take out an RGIII on a play like that expect to see Manning get knocked out or hurt on a late hit because of a team ticked off they just lost there QB on this dumb rule.

  66. I think all this Harbaugh bashing is coming from fans with
    QB’s who are slow and not a double threat, Especially Green Bay fans cause you got your butts handed to you last season in the NFC title game…lol
    But remember this payback is a b_itch, if you do take out any of these QB’s on a read option play expect your QB to get Jacked up too. I’d late hit there QB back in a second if I knew they were targeting my QB. Bring it on fools!

  67. 49er fans trying to call out Seahawk fans for getting on Little Jimmy. Trust me, its every NFL fan making fun of your coach from trying to cry to the media again to get referees to give him a few calls. His antics on the sidelines make everybody sick enough. Seattle doesn’t run much read option (10 – 15 %), not nearly as much as Redskins and 49ers who are using it as a staple of their offense. Green Bay gets the win this week and after Week 2 I have no doubt 49ers forum will be a ghost town. Wheels will fall off that bandwagon.

  68. I guess that means Peyton Manning can be hit hard every time he hands off the ball.

    If he fakes a keep, damn straight.

    Harbaugh isn’t a “whiner” – he’s doing his best to set up how this season is going to play out for his system and his quarterback. Nothing wrong with that, although I disagree with him.

  69. There is a shelf life for Harbaugh….SF fans enjoy the next 3 years because that’s all he will last. You will be sick of him and his whining by then….just like when he was a qb in the pros and then a coach in college…4-5 years is the max. He needs to take a page from his brother who is the opposite and doesn’t rub people the wrong way. The window of opportunity was last year. Yes, defense was great…..offense will be figured out this year. Top receiver gone, Gore is longer in the tooth and after this year they’re actually going to have to start paying players.

    Kaep….you 9er fans are crazy…..you are now saying he is a pocket passer? With that delivery? He is definitely an athlete but let him play qb for a couple seasons before you anoint him as the best qb in the league.

  70. Jim will set the “Us against the world” mentality as always. He is a master motivator. Besides Colin is a big dude, if he decides to be the hammer instead of the nail he could lay LB’s out. The kid has a mean streak, you will see.

  71. I dont think anyone is suggesting that a QB be smashed on every play. But if he is aggressively moving toward the play as a running threat then he is live.

    Some QB’s fade into the backfield after a handoff. I think in that situation if someone “crushes him” then its gonna get flagged.

    Don’t wanna take hits? Don’t pretend to be a potential ball carrier! Simple

  72. He has a point. If an option QB takes the shotgun snap with in the pocket and hands it off to a RB how many steps can the defensive player take to hit him? Does that mean there are different rules for Peyton Manning then there are for Russell Wilson since both work out of the shot gun and both hand off to their RB’s? If Kapernick hands the ball off to his running back can some Packer LB take 5 steps and still hit him even though the RB is 10 yards down the field?

  73. Hairbaugh is the biggest whiner in the nfl…does he ever shut up…You don’t make the rules dude that’s what the commissioner and the rule book are for.

  74. .
    The whole Harbaugh family are whiners.
    Mom Dad Jim John…all of them.
    Jim was a great QB at UofM…but behind the scenes no one could stand being around him or his family.
    When Michigan was looking for a coach they avoided the Harbaugh clan like the plague.
    UofM did at some point out of desperation pursue Jim but he told the university to take a flying leap. It looks like it worked out the best for all parties involved.
    Jim is a good coach but every one in Michigan is glad the Harbaugh Family is finally gone for good!

  75. Hmmm… So the QB should be allowed to run the ball and/or pretend to have the ball and never get tackled?!?

    Uh… It’s called tackle football.

  76. By this definition any qb running a play action pass can be light up by the defense like manning or Brady even though they are not a running threat.

  77. If a qb cleanly and expeditiously hands the ball off he can not be hit (cheap shot after) because he is no longer in the play.
    If a rb is purely blocking and not in a position to touch or pretend to touch the ball, he can’t be tackled.
    If either are handling the ball or in position to receive handoff or pitch then they are both fair game.
    Defense should not be punished because qb led them to believe he has ball or because he held it too long and handed off at last minute.
    Wear and tear on qb is one reason why option only successful long term in college ball

  78. hendeeze says:
    Sep 6, 2013 7:09 PM
    he’s right that there is grey area about the rule. Until they devise some kind of “fair catch” signal, the legality of the hit will always be up to a judgement call by the ref.
    Maybe the running QB should put on his hand and signal to the ref he is not running and if he does run … BANG 15 yd penalty.
    Seriously put these player pretending to be QBs in their place.
    Dropback QBs win Super Bowls … Peyton shown everyone how you play QB. If you want to run tryout for the RBs or WRs positions.

  79. hey! what everybody has missed for the the last 20 years or so is that the college game plan works in the NFL. the elite of the elite in the NFL didn’t think they’d get beat by a college offense.the greatest minds reside in college sports. the nfl is vanilla! it’s the age old “forget where you came from”…

  80. Man what’s wrong with all these people who have a problem with a coach who talks about other teams positive drug tests and says he’s above reproach, while his players are bashing each others faces in with bottles, shooting at people and driving drunk over bridges? What a bunch of haters for calling that out. And what audacity to criticize him shoving and back-punching another coach? Why can’t they see that Jimmy is beautiful? And why do they have a problem with a QB who makes out with his arm, and wears another teams colors, then poses with his car while tonguing his bicep and makes it his twitter profile pic? How dare they. 90% of them would want that embarrassment in their city too. I mean who needs a selfless, hard-working non-douche overachiever like Russell Wilson? PSHHH! What’s wrong with these people? We got this ‘Niner fans.

  81. why are raider fans even hating on the bay team anyways, raiders are the worst team in the league and wish their team had an identity on offense to begin with, the read option is unimaginable to raider fans dont hate what u dont understand. #dumpnation

  82. Why is it when the Niners talk about a rule they are whiners? But when the Jets and Giants fans complain they are just passionate.

  83. I would consider Kaep an expert in read option since he has been running it since his Nevada days. He doesn’t sound worried and the only ones that do are the ones that post the hating comments, hahaha

  84. The vocabulary in here is bordering moronic. My god people learn how to spell before posting diatribes ad nauseous. And alot is two words ( a lot) for expletive sakes. End…

  85. After Kap gets hit the wrong way one time they will be calling the “baambalance”. Dont worry coach. When RG3 goes down a new “Brady” rule will emerge and your qb will be safe.

  86. This is hilarious. Harbaugh is playing the exact game that Shanahan is playing and it is working to a tee.

    The Skins, and the Niners with Kaepernick, run less than 15% of their offense out of the read option. However, their opponents, and evidently some of the less educated fans that post whatever opinion they are told to have from the original article, think that both offenses run exclusively out of it. The Packers have spent most of their offseason preparing to play both teams and working on how to shut down the Read Option, when they will probably see less than 20 plays combined between both the Niners and Skins in the first 2 weeks. That is a genius coaching job from both teams. Make your opponent spend a majority of their practice time preparing for something that is not a very big part of the offense, and hope that their defense can take care of the rest.

  87. Jim has a point. what does clearly mean? it will only take one injury from a qb that gets hit in this situation before it gains even more attention and then the NFL will have to make a change.

  88. matt3065 says: Sep 7, 2013 12:46 AM

    If a qb cleanly and expeditiously hands the ball off he can not be hit (cheap shot after) because he is no longer in the play.
    If a rb is purely blocking and not in a position to touch or pretend to touch the ball, he can’t be tackled.
    If either are handling the ball or in position to receive handoff or pitch then they are both fair game.
    Defense should not be punished because qb led them to believe he has ball or because he held it too long and handed off at last minute.
    Wear and tear on qb is one reason why option only successful long term in college ball
    So, when a QB from a NON-Read Option offense performs a fake hand off for a Play Action Pass, like Peyton Manning did about 25 times on Thursday night, a defensive player can treat him like a runner on all plays? From what I am reading from many people on this page is that the league should ban Play Action passes because it makes the defense think there is a running play happening, and it tricks them when the QB is passing the ball. By theory, that QB can then be drilled by the defense and treated as a runner, because the play started as a running play. Right?

  89. The simple truth is that the Ravens gave everyone a blue print on how to play the read option.

    Notice in the Superbowl that everyone time they ran a read option play, a Raven would hit Kaepernick no matter what. After awhile, Kaepernick either stopped running the plays or the 40-whiners opted to call more conventional plays.

    Kaepernick has this to look forward to; a 16 game season where on every read option play, he will get hit. Sometimes hard, other times every hard. Now its up to him and his coach on how much punishment they want to put him thru.

  90. Ever since the option play was born in college QBs have been getting blown up after pitching the ball to the back,its part of the game and will remain so.Harbaugh should be pleased with the ruling as his team can now lower the boom against Seattle,Washington and all other teams that run that option.he knows the proper defense against the option has always been to smack the QB whether he has the ball or not,thats the game after all.

  91. I think I have the solve for this problem. No touching read option QBs. Simply let them run into the end zone every play they take a snap. problem solved and Harbaugh can stop whining for a change.

  92. Reading through some of the posts makes me laugh.

    If Manning fakes a hand off, he can be hit? Yep, if he has the ball, he can be tackled/sacked, just like always. I think the better point would be if he handed the ball off, then could he be hit? No, Manning is not a run threat and the Broncos don’t use the read option system. This rule is for teams that have QBs that run the ball as called plays. These running QBs can still slide to avoid contact, just like every other QB, but they best expect to be hit when they play the game and their system.

    It is hardly fair to tie the hands of a defense that is playing against a read option team. If a team wants to run that system, they should expect that their QB is going to take a lot more hits than a QB in a conventional system. It is a no brainer.

  93. I agree with harbaugh completely.. The wording of the rule is completely vague. This is just owners of teams with qbs not capable of running the read option flexing their muscle.

  94. You’ve inherited a loaded team, you made Alex Smith look good – everyone is anointing you Superbowl Champions/Hall of Famers …

    why be so unlikable with the incessant whining?

  95. As much as I hate harbaugh it’s hard for me to tell all the commenters that they are wrong for bashing him this time… He’s right.. Nfl is wrong

  96. I hate to agree with hairball, but as I understand the definition a QB running play action, a boot leg, or sprint out should not be protected either. They do need to clarify it.———————————————————————————————-
    Actually they don’t, on bootlegs and sprint outs the QB is already treated as a runner.

  97. Cant wait for Kaeperdick to get knocked right on his pompous ass. Cant wait to see McCoy come in and completely SUCK. Cant wait to see all the Forty-WHINER fans start to cry like the big babies that they are!!


  98. QBs are NOT protected at any time, because they are runners first. A player is only protected from being hit in the knee or head when he is passing the ball in the pocket. The player could be a QB or a RB or any player on the team. Pretty simple and pretty clear. You may not like the rule, but there is no gray area with the rule.

  99. Harbaugh wants to use Kaepernick like a runner, but have the refs protect him like a quarterback?

    I’m glad they aren’t allowing that.

    If you want your running quarterback to be a runner, he should be treated like a runner, along with all of the wear and tear that goes along with that.

    I can’t imagine Kaepernick ever playing all 16 games without an injury at that rate.

  100. Which comes first: Kaepernick loses a game after being hit on a running play?

    Or Rex Ryan gets fired?

    They”ll both happen before the end of the season.

  101. Matt3065: So, when a QB from a NON-Read Option offense performs a fake hand off for a Play Action Pass, like Peyton Manning did about 25 times on Thursday night, a defensive player can treat him like a runner on all plays? From what I am reading from many people on this page is that the league should ban Play Action passes because it makes the defense think there is a running play happening, and it tricks them when the QB is passing the ball. By theory, that QB can then be drilled by the defense and treated as a runner, because the play started as a running play. Right?”

    You just said “fake hand off” so the QB still has the ball. Are you trying to say that the defense should not be able to tackle the hypothetical QB?

    Sorry, but they can put the hit on the QB at any time that he has the ball.

    QB is protected from a late hit (just like any other player).

    It is a myth that they are more protected. I don’t care… pocket passer, roll-out QB, Read Option… they are all able to be hit if they still have the ball or if they appear to still have the ball.

    That is fair. Anything else handcuffs the defense from stopping the play.

  102. 49er fans have to be among the least knowledgeable in football. It makes sense since they were soccer fans until two years ago.

    If a QB fakes a handoff, by definition, it means he has the ball and YES he can be hit.

    Quit whining for once.

    Your coach is a huge cry baby and your QB is a gang banger.

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