The 49ers lost more than just a division game against a hated rival on Sunday night. They also lost defensive lineman Ian Williams to a broken ankle. The injury came when Williams was taken out with a legal cut block.
But in a league where the rules seem to increasingly favor the offense, some defensive players have had enough. Take Williams' teammate, linebacker Patrick Willis, for example. He wasn't particularly pleased with how things went down and used an animal kingdom metaphor to bring home his point.
“I feel like as a linebacker or a D-lineman, any cut, it's a man sport — be a man, hit me up high,” Willis said, via CSNBayArea.com. “Hit like rams. You don't see a ram going and cutting another ram's legs. They hit head to head, pad to pad."
It's a great point. When's the last time you witnessed two rams head-butting each other senseless for the right to mate only to have one of the rams execute a cut block. The answer: Never. Because it's beneath rams. Even for the ones with no shot of ever having sex. (At least that's our understanding based on absolutely no training and a few hours of watching Animal Planet during the offseason.)
“I feel like that's something the league should look into more," Willis continued. "You see some of that stuff, and it's uncalled for. You have a guy who's 300 pounds cutting a guy who's 250 pounds. Do physics to that. Hit the man up high. It should be a good collision.”
Willis, who said he barely avoided a cut block during Sunday's game, echoed many other players when he said that he'd prefer to be hit high instead of low.
“You're not talking about a concussion and being out for two weeks,” he said. “You're taking about being down for the rest of the season if you get hit good like that.”
49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald agreed.
“They have to do something about that,” McDonald said. “They're making all these rules for QBs and receivers. They got to find a way to protect the big fellas on the inside because a lot of dudes get hurt that way. That's how Brian Cushing got hurt last year.”
To be fair, Cushing's injury prompted a rules change this offseason. Peel-back blocks are now illegal anywhere on the field. Cut blocks, however, remain.