SANTA CLARA – Here’s what Jim Harbaugh said about Clay Matthews Monday morning.
Q: What’s your reaction to the aftermath of Clay Matthews’ illegal hit on Colin Kaepernick?
HARBAUGH: I think there was a lot going on on that play or series of plays. You had the third down play where we got stopped short. That brought up a fourth-and-one. We got called for an illegal formation and the Packers chose to take that penalty and made it third-and-six when they could have had the fourth-and-one. We would have gone for it on fourth-and-one. They anticipated that and that’s why they backed us up.
And then Colin scrambles out of bounds and we get the personal foul. You talk about launching, you talk about a clothesline to the neck area of a quarterback six, seven feet out of bounds – I was standing there, I was struck. I had seen this play before. I thought of Emlen Tunnell. You all know he was, No.45 on the Giants. Back when that was legal, he would stand there in the middle of the field and wait for receivers to cross and he would clothesline them and their legs and feet would fly up in the air and their backs would hit the ground. I was struck: I’m seeing Emlen Tunnell here!
And then Joe Staley jumps in and locks him up, and somehow Joe Staley gets a personal foul called on him. I looked at it with my own eyes and I saw two punches thrown to Joe’s head – well, one punch and one open slap. If you’re going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap.
That young man works very hard on being at being a tough guy. He’ll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap.
But Bill Levy’s crew is, in my opinion, one of the best in the NFL. But first of all, it never should have been offsetting penalties in my opinion. That being said, whether it should have been a fourth down, we would have gone for it anyway. The next play was a third down, we come back and hit Anquan Boldin for the touchdown. All in all, there was a lot of things going on in that stretch.
The other one was the entire Packers’ bench cleared, the practice squad players, coaches, they were all out of their bench area down around the goal line. There was no repercussion for that one either.
Q: You had said in the run up to the game that all the tough talk was tantamount to targeting the quarterback. Does that hit on Kaepernick bolster that sense that they had it in for him from the start?
HARBAUGH: Like I said last week, usually a man will tell you his bad intentions if you just listen. That certainly was a cheap shot, launching, clotheslining to the neck/head area. Bad play. Now in Emlem Tunnell’s day that was legal. In our day, that’s not legal.
Q: A lot of your players, Joe Staley for one, said after the game they have a lot of respect for Matthews. Do you have the same respect for him.
HARBAUGH: I don’t really have any more comments about it.
Q: Staley said he’s going to protect his quarterback in a situation like that.
HARBAUGH: I respect that.
Q: Of course. But he also said he does need weigh losing his cool in that situation. How do you coach that considering you may face it again this year with somebody going after your quarterback and the lineman running to defend him?
HARBAUGH: When guys are going after each other after the whistle, looking to push and shove people, just lock up, protect yourself. We’re not going to back down from it. We’re not going to get pushed around after the whistle when it’s not being called. When the first offense isn’t being called you have to have a plan. For us it’s not to go pushing or throwing punches. Lock up and protect yourself. And Joe did that about as well as you could do it. If you call someone for that, you’ll have 30 flags a game. That happens all the time. That’s best I know how to tell them.
Q: As a player did you ever throw a knuckle punch to the helmet?
Q: You did not slap anyone either?
HARBAUGH: I would never.