49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

October 20, 2010
Niner defenders bristle over stiff penalties for big hits

The NFL's latest crackdown on dangerous and flagrant hits isn't going over all that well in the 49ers locker room where defensive players said they felt vulnerable to the vagaries of a fast and violent sport. "Nobody really tries to hurt anybody, but it's just hard because you can't control it sometimes," said safety Taylor Mays. "Sometimes you go to hit a player in his body and he moves. And, you know, what are you supposed to do?"

The league on Tuesday fined three players, a linebacker and two safeties, a total of $175,000 for flagrant hits they made over the weekend. The league also warned that similar hits could result in suspensions. Those types of hits - helmet to helmet, hitting a defenseless player, etc. - have long been illegal and subject to fines. But with more attention paid to concussions, the penalties are becoming far more severe.

San Francisco defenders said they recognized that player safety was paramount. But some said they felt unfairly targeted. "I thought that's what you're supposed to do," defensive captain Patrick Willis said. " I thought a defensive player was supposed to hit."

Willis noted that offensive players are permitted to cut down defenders in the open field. "I don't know - it's just crazy that somebody could cut your legs out like that in the open field and intentionally blow your knee out and you're done for the season (and) a concussion is what, two weeks, maybe three, yet they don't get fined for that or get in trouble for that," Willis said.

The team's starting safeties said they wouldn't let the stiffer penalties alter their play. Said Dashon Goldson: "I can't play with the rules in the back of my head. I can't think like that because that's hurting my team. And I'm not getting my job done."

Tight end Vernon Davis (knee) took part in the 49ers' morning walk through. Mike Singletary said that Davis and several other players would be "day to day" this week. They are Nate Clements (leg contusion), Manny Lawson (rib contusion), Josh Morgan (thigh contusion), Justin Smith (hand laceration), Parys Haralson (calf contusion).

Eric Heitmann is dealing with a neck injury. Neither he nor Delanie Walker (ankle) is expected to play Sunday.

The team rounded out its eight-man practice squad by adding FB Jehuu Caulcrick.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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