San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh expressed concern on Wednesday that the Green Bay Packers defense may be targeting quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the Week 1 game between the teams on Sunday.
Harbaugh is specifically worried about the ability of defenses to hit the opposing quarterback if the QB is carrying out a fake on a read-option play. Packers linebacker Clay Matthews told ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” on Monday that they’ll be looking to get their licks in on Kaepernick on those plays.
“One of the things that the referees have told us is that when these quarterbacks carry out the fakes, they lose their right as a quarterback, a pocket-passing quarterback, the protection of a quarterback,” Matthews said on Mike & Mike. “So with that, you do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they’re too important to their offense. If that means they 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 thinks what Matthews said indicates the Packers are planning to target Kaepernick. He even compared Matthews’ words to some of the stuff heard during the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal.
“You’re hearing a lot of tough talk right now,” Harbaugh said, via Niners Insider. “You’re hearing some intimidating type of talk. Kind of things – same things 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. You know what’s being said publicly, you wonder what’s being said privately. You hope that their intent is not going to be anything that’s not within the rules.”
Harbaugh questions the rule and feels like quarterbacks should not be hit until they declare themselves runners.
“My opinion is before the quarterback’s declared being a runner, then he should be afforded the protection that all quarterbacks are afforded until he declares and gets out of the pocket and starts running with the ball,” Harbaugh said. “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 in the pocket, I believe that he’s a quarterback until he declares that he’s a runner.”
I disagree with Harbaugh on that one. If a team is using the quarterback as a decoy to help make the play better, than he should be fair game for hits. It would be unfair to a defense to be penalized for hitting someone who looks like a ballcarrier. Harbaugh would probably agree if he didn’t have such a talented player to protect.Google+