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Jim Harbaugh pokes fun at Clay Matthews’ open-hand slap during fight, ‘come with some knuckles’

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner

Jim Harbaugh is going to defend his players, and especially his quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Even if that means taking some shots at one of the NFL's defensive stars.

Lost in the refereeing debacle that stemmed from Clay Matthews' illegal hit on Colin Kaepernick was that the tackle itself was quite dirty. Not only was Kaepernick well out of bounds, Matthews dragged him down by going high on him. Harbaugh chose to compare it to a clothesline tackle.

And just to drive his point home, the 49ers coach took some shots at Matthews' manliness for what he did in the scuffle with offensive lineman Joe Staley after the hit on Kaepernick.

"I could see two punches thrown to Joe's head," Harbaugh said, in the video from CSN Bay Area from his press conference. "Well, one punch and one open slap.

"If you're going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap. I think that young man works very hard on being a tough guy, he'll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap."

Them's some fighting words, Jim.

Harbaugh obviously didn't like the play, which he called "a cheap shot" for Matthews launching himself and "clotheslining" his quarterback. He brought up the old-school neck tackles that were outlawed decades ago and thought that's what Matthews did.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Matthews isn't a dirty player.

"Clay Matthews is not a dirty player, by no means," McCarthy said, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "So I addressed Harbaugh’s comments in the team meeting, and as always, we’ll stay above it."

If anyone was not sure that Harbaugh wasn't thrilled with the Packers' linebacker, he was asked if he still respected Matthews despite the play.

"I don't really have any more comment about it," Harbaugh said. "We've talked at length about it."

That's a good way to say a lot without answering a question.

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