Corners getting away with you know what?

October, 20, 2012
10/20/12
12:04
AM ET
Penalties against Seattle Seahawks defensive backs are down significantly this season.

San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh hopes that changes.

Harbaugh, displeased with the Seahawks' rough tactics against 49ers wide receivers, told reporters Friday he plans to ask the NFL office for clarification on rules governing illegal contact.

"Yeah, I think that’s just an important thing to address," Harbaugh said. "I mean, what is this all being defined as? Is it physical play? Is it within the rules? I think that’s the biggest question, 'Is it within the rules what’s happening?' We have to ask that question. We have to know what the interpretation is."

NFL teams regularly complain about officiating issues to the NFL office. They put together video clips showing plays in question.

The New York Giants presumably followed that protocol before their offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride, publicly accused 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith of holding.

Harbaugh took offense to Gilbride's comments. He criticized Gilbride for using the term "gets away with murder" in association with officials allegedly failing to call holding against Smith.

"It's obvious that the Giants coaching staff’s sole purpose is to use their high visibility to both criticize and influence officiating," Harbaugh said in a statement released one week ago.

Harbaugh did not accuse the Seahawks' defensive backs of "mugging" anyone. And as shootme5150 pointed out in the comments section, Harbaugh was asked specifically about the Seahawks' tactics in the secondary (Gilbride brought up the officiating angle on his own). It is notable, however, that Harbaugh is publicly complaining about officiating one week after criticizing an opponent for complaining about officiating.

The complaints against Seattle's defensive backs are nothing new.

Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith and Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings became visibly frustrated during their matchups with cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.

Officials have called six penalties against Seattle defensive backs this season for defensive holding, defensive pass interference, illegal contact and illegal use of the hands. Officials called 24 such penalties against Seattle DBs last season. The figure was six for all of 2010, the Seahawks' first season under coach Pete Carroll.

Everything changed when the 6-foot-3 Sherman and 6-4 Browner became starters last season. Browner became the most penalized player in the NFL with 19 accepted and declined penalties for infractions ranging from defensive pass interference (six times) and defensive holding (four) to unnecessary roughness (two) and even roughing the kicker (one).

Harbaugh's complaints should add fuel to the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry.

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, who played under Harbaugh at Stanford, tweeted the following: "Jim said Sherm and BB were playing too rough. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaaahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha."

Sherman also played under Harbaugh at Stanford.

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