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Harbaugh calls NFL rules interpretation "flawed"

The SportsXchange

San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh does not like the way the NFL is interpreting the rule for hitting a quarterback on the read-option, calling the ruling "flawed and a bit biased" on Friday.

The issue gained publicity when Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said this week the Packers plan to hit 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the read option in the opener based on what he had learned about the rules. Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards against the Packers last season.

Harbaugh did not like the implication of Matthews' comments and asked the NFL for clarification on the rule.

In an NFL rules video sent to reporters on Thursday, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said a quarterback can be hit even after he hands the ball off if he continues to carry out a fake and postures as if he's running the ball.

"The quarterback can be hit like a runner until he's clearly out of the play," Blandino said in the video.

Harbaugh did not like that interpretation.

"I think it's flawed and a bit biased," he said Friday. "I believe that when a quarterback is handing a ball off or faking a ball -- in the read-option case, he's reading on an option play and he's as defenseless as a quarterback who's in the act of throwing.

"And I'm not advocating that they don't hit the quarterback if he has the ball, but when he's in the pocket I believe there should be a strike zone. The same strike zone that is given to the quarterback when he's in the pocket and throwing the ball. I feel like you give a license now to players to hit quarterbacks at the knee or in the head, and it just seems to be a flip-flop of what the league's trying to get accomplished -- players safety.

"It seems simple, it seems like [the NFL rules committee] would have more of an appetite to look at that and they've said they don't have an appetite to look at it any further."
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