“You’re hearing all the tough talk right now,” he told the Sacramento Bee’s Matthew Barrows. “You’re hearing some intimidating type of talk, the same thing we were hearing a couple of years ago. It sounds a lot like targeting a specific player.”
The specifics on when Kaepernick—or any read-option quarterback for that matter—is protected by quarterback hit rules when he decides to go mobile is still a “gray area”, according to Harbaugh. Barrows writes that Harbaugh has and will continue to be in contact with the league office and will look for more clarification before the 49ers Week 1 matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
“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. “So with that, you do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they’re too important to their offense.”
Kaepernick and the 49ers ran the read-option to great success against the Packers in last seasons Playoffs, when Kaepernick ran for 181 yards—an NFL record for a quarterback.
Considering the increased number of mobile quarterbacks and the increased use of the read-option, any change in the NFL’s rulebook could have big ramifications around the league. Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Washington’s Robert Griffin III and Carolina’s Cam Newton all make use of the read-option.