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October 12, 2012
Counter punch: Harbaugh calls Gilbride statement 'outrageous, irrational'


This time Jim Harbaugh didn't even wait until climbing to the podium to unleash his anger.

While he and the San Francisco 49ers were still on the practice field on Friday, the 49ers released a statement from Harbaugh addressing comments that New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride made a day earlier.

"Kevin Gilbride's outrageous, irrational statement regarding Justin Smith's play is, first, an absurd analogy," Harbaugh said. "Second, it is an incendiary comment targeting one of the truly exemplary players in this league. It's obvious that the Giants coaching staff's sole purpose is to use their high visibility to both criticize and influence officiating."

While addressing the New York media Thursday, Gilbride said that Smith "gets away with murder" in terms of holding offensive linemen to, presumably, allow teammates like Aldon Smith to get a clear lane to the quarterback.

"Smith is a beast on the inside," Gilbride said. "He's strong. He does as good a job of grabbing a hold of offensive linemen and allowing those twists to take place. He never gets called for it, so he gets away with murder."

Harbaugh, of course, has strongly defended players against perceived attacks in the past. He launched a diatribe this summer against "so-called pundits" who had labeled first-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins a bust. He had a similar speech earlier in this year in which he insisted the 49ers were never "pursuing" Peyton Manning in free agency and had always considered Alex Smith their quarterback.

This is the first time, however, he's sent out a press release before his press conference. The fact that the news release was sent out one hour before he is scheduled to address the media likely means he wanted the message to hit the East Coast as quickly as possible.


-- 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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