- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh didn't get his way. But Friday, he got the final word on the interpretation of what is a legal hit on a quarterback in the read-option offense, saying a league ruling was "flawed and a bit biased."
In the NFL's weekly rules video that was sent to reporters on Thursday, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino showed several read-option plays and spelled out when a quarterback who is in the act of running the read-option can be hit.
"The quarterback can be hit like a runner until he's clearly out of the play," Blandino said in the video.
On Friday, the oft-emotionally charged Harbaugh didn't hold back when he spoke to the media, noting that the league's competition committee said it didn't have the "the appetite to look at it any further. So that's where we're at."
"I believe that when a quarterback is handing a ball off or faking a ball -- in the read-option case, he's reading on an option play and he's as defenseless as a quarterback who's in the act of throwing," Harbaugh said.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a record 181 yards rushing in the team's playoff win against Green Bay in January. This week, Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews said the Packers will try to hit Kaepernick to slow him down.
"One of the things that the referees have told us is that when these quarterbacks carry out the fakes, they lose their right as a quarterback, a pocket-passing quarterback, the protection of a quarterback," Matthews said Wednesday on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike." "So with that, you do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they're too important to their offense. If that means they pull them out of that type of offense and make them run a traditional, drop-back, pocket-style offense, I think that's exactly what we're going for. So you want to put hits as early and often on the quarterback and make them uncomfortable."