San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, centre, is tackled by two Green Bay Packers players. He will lead his team out in Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens (Picture: AP)

San Francisco 49ers: Harbaugh Won’t Like NFL’s Clarification On Hitting Read-Option Quarterbacks

San Francisco 49ers’ coach Jim Harbaugh has been asking the league to clarify its stance on hitting a read-option quarterback, and explain when they’ll be treated as a running back and when they’ll be afforded the protection offered most QB’s. The league has issued a video containing the answer — and Harbaugh’s not going to like it.

Comments earlier this week by the Green Bay Packers, and Clay Matthews in particular, irked Harbaugh, leading the 49er coach to seek answers from the league office on an issue that is sure to come up with a mobile QB like Colin Kaepernick.

The 49ers host the Packers this Sunday, and Tuesday, on ESPN’s Mike and Mike radio show, Matthews said, “you do have to take your shots on the quarterback.”  Wednesday, on a conference call with Bay Area media, Matthews again addressed the issue.

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. 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.

ESPN’s Ed Werder tweeted on Wednesday. Jim Harbaugh seeking clarification from league about when defense can consider QB runner and hit Kaepernick.”

And the 49er coach responded to comments coming out of Green Bay the same day, saying, “It sounds a lot like targeting a specific player.”

Wednesday evening the league released a nine-minute video for teams and media, with NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino expounding on a subject that may affect every team in the league; as so many teams now use read-option plays for their quarterbacks, and every defense in the league is trying to figure out how to stop them.

The video stated that read-option quarterbacks could be legally hit like ball-carrying running backs, even without the ball, especially if the quarterback carries out a fake in an apparent running play. He also added quarterbacks aren’t offered the same protections when sliding on read-option plays, but QB’s who obviously no longer have the ball are not to be hit.

These are quotes by Blandino regarding video replays used as examples:

He is still treated as a runner until he is clearly out of the play. The quarterback makes the pitch, he’s still a runner — he can be hit like a runner until he’s clearly out of the play.


The quarterback and the running back, they’re both treated as runners. We don’t know who has the football, we don’t know who’s going to take it, so both players are treated as runners.


The basic concept is, the quarterback position is not defenseless throughout the down. It’s the posture he presents that will dictate his protections.

Wednesday’s video guidelines were released to little fanfare, but they could be receiving quite a bit of attention this season as coaches try and protect their 21st century franchise quarterbacks that like to run, and defensive coordinators attempt to design defenses and direct their players how to stop them.

Kaepernick himself didn’t seem too concerned with all the chatter, stating what is all too obvious about America’s most popular sport.

“It’s football. You’re going to get hit”


Tags: Clay Matthews Colin Kaepernick Green Bay Packers Jim Harbaugh San Francisco 49ers

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