Harbaugh: “You’re hearing all the tough talk right now. It sounds a lot like targeting a specific player.”

SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh spoke in the media tent Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said about opposing defenses’ approach to stopping Colin Kaepernick and the read option.

Q: The referees went around the league this offseason and explained that while a quarterback is carrying out his fake on the read option, he is not afforded the protections of a passer in the pocket, he can get hit. Is that a concern for you with Kaepernick, and is it any different from what they explained to you last year?

HARBAUGH: Still doing some talking there. I want to fully understand what they’re saying.

Q: Is there a gray area?

HARBAUGH: I think so, a bit of a gray area.

Q: Defensive players have said they’re going to take advantage of that gray area and hit your quarterback. Do you agree that the quarterback is hittable in those instances?

HARBAUGH: My opinion is before the quarterback has declared being a runner, then he should be afforded the protection all quarterbacks are afforded. Until he declares and gets out of the pocket and starts running with the ball or running an option or carrying out a bootleg and attempting to run or pass when he’s outside of the pocket, but when he’s inside the pocket I believe he’s a quarterback until he declares that he’s a runner. Those are the conversations right now. Haven’t gotten final clarification on what it’s going to be.

Q: Do you think how the Ravens defended the read option in the Super Bowl was legal?


Q: So you’ve been in contact with the league?


Q: Do you think you’ll have a resolution before Sunday afternoon?

HARBAUGH: Probably not.

Q: Is that something you’ll be monitoring closely Sunday afternoon?

HARBAUGH: Monitoring?

Q: Discussing with the referees.

HARBAUGH: Yeah, I’m probably going to discuss it with the referees before the game. You’re hearing all the tough talk right now. You’re hearing some intimidating type of talk, the same thing we were hearing a couple of years ago. It sounds a lot like targeting a specific player. You definitely start to wonder. A man will usually tell you his bad intentions if you just listen. And that’s being discussed publicly. You know what’s being said privately by what’s being said publicly. You hope that their intent isn’t going to be anything that’s outside the rules.

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  1. Packers are still pissed they got made to look like fools… if they take a cheap shot on Cap I expect Cowboy to pile drive Rodgers right into The Sticks basement

    1. (The ‘Stick’s “basement” … is the Bay ! lol )

      yeah, Grant … I read the Mathews interview … and it reminded me of the ex-Saints coach (Williams)
      now famous “pep-talk” …

      I’m thinking .. if Mathews does, indeed, score a hit on Kaep ..
      it’ll end up costing him 15 yds ..

      but then .. he just might think it would be worth it ..

  2. I thought from the time i read Matthews comments yesterday they were reminicent of the Saints bounty gate. They are targeting CK when he does’nt have the ball and is not playing an active part in the play. With the nfl’s concern regarding concussions i do’nt believe they will be giving defensive players free shots on QB’s. One thing the NFL does not want to see is retribution say Matthews takes out CK with a cheap shot whats to stop one of the 9ers backup D lineman from going after Rogers Knees.

    1. “what’s to stop one of the 9ers backup D lineman from going after Rogers’ knees…” I wish I could be naive and say “Class. Character. Sportsmanship, Integrity and Respect for the Game”.

      1. Openminded all those high minded ideals go out the window if an opposing player takes a cheap shot at your QB especially when he announced he was going to do it earlier in the week

      2. I hear ya Old Coach. I’m pretty attached to my green lawn. If the neighbor’s dog pees on it, I go over to the neighbor’s yard and pee on it and the dog. So much for class, character, etc.

  3. “A man will usually tell you his bad intentions if you just listen. ”

    Harbs stole that line from Robert Duvall in the movie Open Range. lol

  4. Don’t forget, we need to defend the read-option as well. Think our team is different without CK. How good will the Seahawks be without Wilson. #takehimout

    Go Niners!!!

  5. Master of psychological warfare. I’m sure the offensive line has had a meeting and have formed an action plan for Clay and his cheesy friends….

    1. What can the offensive line do if the design of the play is to leave Matthews unblocked? If he gets to Kaepernick while he’s making the exchange, Kaepernick is getting hit.

      1. How about a cut block???? Or accidentally taking him out after a play is over? Or blowing him up even if he’s not involved in the play? :)

      2. Grant if he gets to CK WHILE he is making the exchange he should hit him thats a clean play. Matthews was talking about hitting him after the exchange.

      3. Grant, you make it sound like Matthews is going to go after Kaepernick regardless of who is the actual ball-carrier. No matter what is being said, he is still going to have to make plays on the ball or take the chance of an RB making a big play while he is trying to rough-up Kaepernick.

      4. Bray and Ding Dong i will guarantee you this if Matthews takes out CH with what is construed as a cheap shot, the 49ers wo’nt go after Matthews they will knee cap Rogers. Grant is right it would be to difficult to target a line backer but a QB is easy

      5. Grant:

        I don’t think it’s realistic to think that Matthews can get to Kaepernick while he is making the exchange. T

      6. What could really change the Packers mindset is for Kap to fake to Gore and have Gore cut Matthews or whoever is coming in. That would end the all out pursuit pretty quick.

      7. Oh I agree old coach, I was responding to GC’s query of ‘what can the OL do?”

        It would turn into ‘old school’ baseball, you hit our Stud, we hit your Stud

      8. The point of the read option is the QB is reading the unblocked defender. If Matthews comes after Kap every time, Kap will hand off every time. It makes the QB’s job easier, Matthews will not get any solid shots on Kap, and Frank Gore will average 6 ypc.

        1. How do you know Matthews won’t get any solid shots on Kaepernick? Seems like getting a solid shot is the whole point, and for the Packers it would be worth giving up one six yard run.

      9. Matthews is quick, but he’s not capable of meeting Kaepernick at the exchange point on the read. If he starts getting too disruptive the 49ers simply block him with Miller like they did on the 56 yard TD run by Kaepernick last year in the Divisional round.

        1. I think Harbaugh is worried Matthews will get there a split second late – in the gray area – and take the big shot anyway.

      10. I don’t it’s a matter of how fast he is; Matthews will be rushing from the edge, not up the middle.

        Quarterbacks making traditional handoffs rarely, if ever, get hit during the exchange, and if they do, it’s because an interior lineman managed to shoot a gap unblocked. They don’t get hit by edge rushers.

        Now, I don’t have the data to back this up, but it certainly appears that the read option handoff takes less time than the traditional handoff. Couple that with the fact that Kaepernick will be looking at the unblocked defender as soon as he has the ball in his hands, and I don’t see how Matthews is going to get to him before the exchange is completed.

      11. If Matthews just automatically runs at the QB Kap no longer has to carry out a fake, he merely has to hand off and back up. Then he’s off limits and Matthews just took himself out of the play. As Claude and Jack point out he doesn’t have time to come from the edge and get a clean hit, especially since Kap is looking right at him the whole time.

        Matthews’ quotes have shown us that the Packers are scared because they have no answer to the RO other than to intimidate the QB.

      12. I was just looking at some video highlights of Matthews and while he made some great plays meeting the RB in the backfield, it was always after the exchange – and usually when he had made an inside move, not from the edge.

      13. Harbaugh might be, but Kaepernick has the benefit of keeping his eyes on Matthews throughout the read fake to prepare himself for contact.

    2. The Art of War would say the Packers have set-up a nice decoy in spewing the “watch out for Matthews” crap. Meantime, whiel all attention is on Matthews, the real plan is a Safety blitz aimed at taking the focus away from the unblocked corner blitz to get to Kaep. I can see quick slants all day long until the Packers get away from bounty hunting and back to football.

  6. Maybe I missed something in the Matthews interview but it didn’t remind me of Bounty Gate. In Bounty Gate pep he said “take his head off” there was profanity and anger, as if he meant it. Matthews sounded like a great defensive player basically saying the same thing they always say, get to the QB. same thing aldon smith should do when we play Wilson and RG3

    1. yeah, Mathews wasn’t as egregious as Williams..but
      it could be “construed” as something in that
      “gray area” .. The Harbs mentioned

    2. I read his comment as a threat that they are ready to hit the QB to make him move away from the option! So if he is stating that publicly I wonder what they have been saying privately!!! They were so desperate to stop the offense that they spend the summer learning how to stop it and then signed a QB want to be Scott T and Wallace for the sole purpose of gaining inside information about the playbook and the new installations!

  7. The venom is running rampant, gotta love it. FWIW, I don’t think Matthews is looking to circumvent the rules and lay a dirty hit on Kap. I think he’s using psychology to try and get the Niners thinking about not using the read option for fear it will leave Kap open to injury.

    What we need to remember is there is rarely an opportunity for a defender to lay a clean hit on the QB without receiving a penalty. If the QB doesn’t have the ball and is not carrying out a fake, he’s off limits. The only way the QB is going to take a clean shot is if he’s hit in this instance which in turn would lead to a personal foul call. It’s nice in theory for defenses to believe this is an option that can shut down the play, but in reality the QB has handed the ball off or left the pocket before the rusher is in position to get a good shot. The Ravens tried to do it in the SB and other than receiving a couple of shoves from Suggs, Kap didn’t take any more punishment than normal.

    It’s nothing more than bravado and intimidation tactics on behalf of a defense that got it’s collective asses handed to them last year, and are worried about it happening again.

  8. Pretty sure Mathews was on the field when Kaepernicus went all Barry Sanders on his as$. I’m not worried about Fabio.

    Incidentally, I’m from the Atari/Nintendo generation (36) … have the new Madden 25 and the Pistol & Read/Option stuff for Kaep & the 49ers is awesome … a must have bloggers!

    1. I remember the 49ers reading Erik Walden most of the time on the strong side. It will be interesting to see if the Packers move Mathews around in this game or keep him on the defense’s right side.

    2. Matthews was on the field when Kaepernick ripped off the 56 yard TD last year, but that play went to the other side of the field.

  9. Coach Harbaugh brings up a very good point here! As long as every one shows up to play good football this is a none issue. The key here is lets not use the embarrassment to motivate players to hurt other players! Because if that is the intention it will get very ugly quickly because we can hit them back!!!

  10. It makes sense that a QB can be tackled when he’s assuming the posture of possessing the ball while running toward or parallel the line of scrimmage.

    But what about the pocket? In traditional runs QBs often assume the posture of possession, yet hits on those QBs are usually flagged (unless its a split second after handoff).

    My concern is that Kaepernick will be treated differently then Brady or Rogers on simple handoffs, with defenses being allowed to hit him well after the run is underway.

  11. Green Bay will be without it’s starting slot corner Casey Hayward on Sunday. He accounted for 8 of GB’s interceptions last season.

  12. Jeez you pussies. Colin is a big boy. You put Kap and Matthews in a cage and I’ll put my jingle on the homeboy. Matthews has been eclipsed by JJ who is a truly scary defensive player. Matthews will take a couple hellacious shots from our OL in the first quarter and spend the rest of the game tying his shoes…

  13. Any jerk that continues to go after the QB ones he has handed the ball off, is taking himself out of the play! one less guy to tackle the runner! I expect big gains by the 49ers RB’s……aided by some 15yard penaltys.

    1. Exactly! That’s why Gore and Hunter are going to gash the Pack all Sunday. Not to mention we’ll see some quick play action passes that slow them down. I still think we won’t actually see Kaep keep and run on a read-option play until at least the 2nd. When they think he’s “scared” to run it. That’s when they start having deja vu all over again.

  14. Geezus, Grant!!! Can you throw me a freekin bone here?! Be a little bit more optimistic, will ya?! You make it sound as if on the very first play, Clay’s gonna rip down the pike unchecked … unchallenged … and the second he makes contact, Kap’s gonna be vaporized into a cloud of red and gold dust!! I’m all escared. Hijo de la chingada, no mamés, güey!!!

  15. You break my guys leg, I break your guys back.
    You send my to the sideline with a concussion, I send yours to the hospital.

    Sometimes you need to step up and take of your own business and not be anyone’s ***** (other employees or your boss).

    To idly sit by and acquiesce to a dysfunctional system is failing the test.

  16. All of the comments ignore fella named. Staley. After one embarrassing half, Joe has owned Matthews. My money is on Joe, and on Kap wearing the tired Matthews out. He can backpedal faster than Clay can bring it.

  17. Harbs: “You know what’s being said privately by what’s being said publicly.”
    Harbs probably told select players “Clay must want to end Kap’s season privately, not just hit him hard on read option.”
    I bet Boone wants a piece of Mathews!

  18. This is the kind of situation Walsh would thrive in… While the opposing team targets one player or a certain play, they are opening themselves up some way, some how, and/or some where, to be exploited. I saw it on a regular basis in the 80s when Walsh coached, and Walsh made them pay. Harbaugh and Roman will too.

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