Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Around the NFC West: 'A cheap shot'

By Mike Sando


The hits keep coming for San Francisco 49ers backup guard Joe Looney after his low block left Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams with an injured knee.

We discussed the block Monday and I concluded that Looney did not violate playing rules when he struck Williams in the knee during the third quarter of an exhibition game Sunday night. There was no penalty flag on the play. The NFL has no plans to fine Looney.

The question was whether Looney had violated unwritten rules. Williams' teammates are predictably standing up for their guy. Looney is predictably saying he meant no harm. I give more credence to what retired offensive lineman Jeff Saturday said while serving in his role as NFL analyst for ESPN. We might normally expect one offensive lineman to stand up for another, but Saturday did not do that in this situation.

"It's definitely a cheap shot," Saturday said. "There was no reason to go low on a guy whose back is turned toward you. ... I've pulled off many a day on a cut block or when you think it's even questionable. You just don't do it. Everybody knows we're here to earn a living for our families and represent more than barbaric play on the field. As a player and as a man you have to have higher principles than even sometimes the rules."

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh used the word "unfortunate" to describe the play.

"I don't think it was a dirty play, don't think it was intentional, don't think there is any malice in the heart of Joe Looney," Harbaugh told reporters.

Williams suffered a hyperextended knee with a bone bruise and postular capsular strain, but no ligament damage. It's not yet clear how quickly he might return.