It's not every day that an NFL coach takes issue with the way an opposing player fights, but that's what 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh did on Monday when the subject of Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews came up.
Matthews started a brawl in the second quarter on Sunday when he hit an obviously out of bounds Colin Kaepernick as Kaepernick was scrambling on a third-and-6 play from Green Bay's 10-yard line. Harbaugh called the hit a 'clothesline.' After the hit, 49ers offensive lineman Joe Staley intervened to make sure his quarterback was all right.
During the chaos that erupted, Matthews slapped Staley and Harbaugh noticed. Instead of slapping, Harbaugh seems to think Matthews should have manned up and used 'some knuckles.' Harbaugh sounds like a guy who's been in a brawl or two in his life.
"I looked at it with my own eyes I could see two punches thrown to Joe's head and well, one punch and one open slap," Harbaugh said on Monday. "If you're going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, you know? Not an open slap."
Harbaugh didn't stop talking about the slap there though, he kept going, "I think that young man works very hard on being a tough guy," Harbaugh said. "He'll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap."
Harbaugh seems to be implying that no one's going to think Matthews is tough if he's slapping people and not punching them.
Matthews and Staley were both penalized on the play, although the NFL later admitted that only Matthews should have been penalized.
Asked specifically whether or not he respected Matthews, Harbaugh said, "I don't really have any more comment about it."
Harbaugh probably won't have to comment too much on Matthews for the rest of the season because the 49ers and Packers don't play each other again. Unless they meet in the playoffs of course, so lets all root for that.