Joe Looney's block on Kevin Williams ruled legal by NFL

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Joe Looney's block on Kevin Williams was ruled legal by the NFL.
Joe Looney's block on Kevin Williams was ruled legal by the NFL. (USATSI)

49ers offensive lineman Joe Looney's been subject to some serious scrutiny in the last few days as a result of his low block against Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams during Sunday night's game. But Looney's got ground to stand on in defending himself, as the NFL ruled his block legal.

CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reports that the NFL confirmed the legality of the play on Wednesday, as Looney continued to defend himself against the play.

"I've always been taught to play to the whistle," Looney said. "I'm not out on the field trying to hurt anybody. I hope Kevin is alright. I was just trying to do what I was coached, and play 100 percent to the whistle. I'm just trying to make the football team."

Williams suffered just a hyperextended knee on the play and, at least shortly after the injury, wasn't willing to label the hit as "dirty" in the same way that his teammate Jared Allen did.

"I didn't see him at all," Williams said at the time. "I was just running towards the ball. He might've peeled back and got me. I don't know where he came from. He hit me pretty low. We'll watch it and see if it was dirty or not."

Looney's pretty lucky here. Williams isn't seriously injured and the NFL's got his back -- that should go a decent ways towards minimizing the outrage directed at Looney.

He's also got the support of coach Jim Harbaugh, if that matters at all.

"It was an unfortunate play. I don't think it was a dirty play," Harbaugh said. "Don't think it was intentional. Don't think there is any malice in the heart of Joe Looney."

What would be interesting is to see the reaction if this was a Vikings offensive lineman who laid the hit on someone like 49ers defensive end Justin Smith.

The NFL can -- and, really, should -- take a look at hits like this in the future. But for now the point is moot as Looney's block on Williams falls in the scope of a legal hit.

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