Jim Schwartz, Jim Harbaugh not fined

Updated: October 18, 2011, 11:47 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The NFL will not fine coaches Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz for their postgame altercation Sunday.

In celebration of a victory at Detroit, 49ers coach Harbaugh gave Lions coach Schwartz a roundhouse handshake and a backslap that Schwartz took offense to. A scrum broke out, with coaches and players involved.

"Fortunately, there was no fighting and thus no basis for a fine," league spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday. "However, both coaches told (NFL executive VP) Ray Anderson today that their postgame conduct was wrong and will not happen again. We believe their response is the correct one and that their postgame conduct going forward will be more appropriate."

While Harbaugh vowed to improve his own postgame behavior, he said he is unconcerned about whether coaches like him or not and doesn't plan to say sorry.

"Personally I can get better at the postgame handshake and we'll attempt to do that," Harbaugh said. "I don't think that there's any reason for an apology. We spoke about it after the game, and at some point we will talk in private. Apologies always seem to me like excuses."

Schwartz, for his part, said he talked with the league Monday morning -- and also had an opportunity to talk to Harbaugh after his team's 25-19 loss.

"Afterwards, in the tunnel, I got a brief chance to speak with him, sort of," Schwartz said. "Everything had died down a little bit. I'm sure we'll talk again."

The Niners are 5-1 heading into their bye week after a victory over the previously unbeaten Lions.

"It's something you don't see every game. As a player, I was kind of pumped up about it," left tackle Joe Staley said, chuckling. "They weren't fighting, they were just getting after it. It's an intense game and football is an intense sport with high emotions. It's just something that happened at the end of the game. Obviously you don't want to see a fight happen, but there was some yelling and stuff."

Something similar happened during Harbaugh's Stanford days with former Southern California coach and now Seahawks chief Pete Carroll. They have become bitter rivals.

In 2009, Carroll asked Harbaugh, "What's your deal?" when they met at midfield after No. 25 Stanford ran up the score on 11th-ranked USC in a surprising 55-21 rout, even attempting a 2-point conversion with the game way out of reach.

Back in the locker room Sunday after the skirmish, the coach told his players he wished it hadn't happened and taken the focus off their monumental victory.

"He's a competitor," said tight end Delanie Walker, who scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:56 left. "And that shows a lot, you know. He was very emotional. It was a big win, we overcame a whole lot in the game and he kinda felt that -- you know, he didn't play, but he coached the game. So I could see him acting the way he acted. Really wasn't no big thing, it was just a rough handshake, and I think it got carried out of proportion. But, you know, when he got in the locker room he talked about it, he wished it never happened because he didn't want to take away from our win."

Harbaugh had at least one supporter outside Santa Clara team headquarters, 3,000 miles away at that: big brother and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

"I can tell you this, whoever was right or wrong, I know whose side I'm on. The same side I've always taken," John Harbaugh said Monday. "You know what? Everybody's got a lot to learn. I guess right now he's 5-1. If the biggest lesson he has right now is how to shake hands postgame after a victory, he's doing OK."

Schwartz is a big part of Detroit's resurgence. The Lions went 0-16 in 2008, the season before he became their coach. After a couple losing seasons, Detroit started 5-0 before losing to San Francisco.

The Lions actually had a nine-game winning streak -- dating to last year -- before Sunday's loss. Along the way, Schwartz was as emotional as ever on the sideline. He charged onto the field and pumped his fist after a dramatic overtime win at Minnesota last month, and the following weekend, he appeared to have words for Dez Bryant after the Dallas receiver's catch was overturned on a challenge by Schwartz.

In the first half against San Francisco, Schwartz seemed to yell something across the field when the 49ers tried to challenge a Detroit touchdown -- and instead were hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty because they weren't allowed to challenge that play.

Schwartz says he doubts that played any role in what happened after the game.

"I don't think he was watching on TV, and you can't hear things across the field," Schwartz said. "You can't challenge a scoring play."

Before coming to the Lions, Schwartz was a defensive coordinator with Tennessee. Titans safety Michael Griffin was amused by what happened after the Lions-49ers game.

"He used to always get us fired up," Griffin said. "Schwartz comes off as a nice guy, but when it comes to football and that game is on and it's ready to play, coach Schwartz is into it and ready to play and he backs his guys up 110 percent."

For his part, Schwartz downplayed the effect of his emotion.

"I don't know if it really means a whole lot," he said. "Everybody's competitive in a game, and usually when the game's over, everybody shakes hands and goes on to the next game."

Of course, that handshake was the whole problem Sunday, leaving Schwartz and his players to answer as much for the postgame brouhaha as for anything that took place during the four quarters.

"I think that it is unfortunate that the events after the game have overshadowed the fact that it was probably one of the better games played yesterday," Schwartz said. "It's unfortunate. The game's played by the players on the field, and you certainly don't want things like that to occur, but there's competitive people in the league. That's said, we need to do a better job of just leaving it to the players on the field."

San Francisco's players talked about the run-in on the flight home from the Motor City, even with Harbaugh sitting among them in coach class and not in his first-class seat.

"It's almost like he's still playing football. He's with us," defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. "Just to see a coach fired up, to see him jumping with you, slapping five, patting you on the back, telling you good job and stuff and he's into the game, that's our energy right there. We thrive off of him. It seems like he's still playing football but he's just doing it from the coach's position."

Information from ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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