Jim Harbaugh calls NFL rules on read-option QBs 'flawed and biased'

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

Jim Harbaugh is not happy with the NFL right now. (USATSI)
Jim Harbaugh is not happy with the NFL right now. (USATSI)

If you're an NFL quarterback and you're running the read-option this year, you're going to get hit. The league made it clear on Thursday that read-option quarterbacks will be treated -- and hit -- like runners this season.

One person who has a big problem with that is 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. On Friday, Harbaugh called the rule that makes read-option quarterbacks fair game, 'flawed and a bit biased.'

"We could get into a long discussion about it..." Harbaugh said, before getting into a long discussion about it.

"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, he's as defenseless as a quarterback who's in the act of throwing," Harbaugh said. "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."

Harbaugh seems to thinks the rule could lead to more injured quarterbacks.

"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," Harbaugh said. "Players safety, I've heard [Falcons President and CEO and Competition Committee Chairman] Rich McKay talking about the Competition Committee looking into ways to reduce chop blocks or a player is getting hit at the knee and now you're really opening up a door and giving a license to defensive players to say, 'I couldn't tell if he clearly had the ball or not, so now we can hit him in the knee or the head.' It just, it doesn't make sense."

Here's what NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino said on the matter in a video that was distributed to the media on Thursday, "[The quarterback] 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," Blandino said.

If anything happens to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick this season and this rule's to blame, Competition Committee members may want to avoid Harbaugh for a long, long, long time.


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