May 22, 2013; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh smiles after he addresses the media during organized team activities at the 49ers training complex. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh asks NFL to clarify rules on hitting QBs


Aug 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco 49er head coach with quarterback (7) before a preseason game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

Aug 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco 49er head coach Jim Harbaugh with quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) before a preseason game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh asked the NFL on Wednesday to clarify when mobile quarterback Colin Kaepernick is protected when he runs the read-option.

“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.

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews told ESPN’s Mike & Mike on Tuesday that his team plans to “take shots” at Kaepernick when his protection is forfeited by running or even faking the read-option.

“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.

Tags: Jim Harbaugh NFL San Francisco 49ers