49ers Blog and Q&A

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

November 18, 2013
Harbaugh: "I thought Ahmad hit at the right level"


Jim Harbaugh said today that 49ers coaches will place a minus next to a player's name whenever that player commits a penalty. He said there was no minus next to Ahmad Brooks' name despite the 15-yard penalty that wiped away a sack and fumble by Saints quarterback Drew Brees late in Sunday's game.

The call, which allowed the Saints to retain possession and eventually kick a game-tying field goal, has been the most-discussed of the NFL weekend with national media members - from Sports Illustrated's Peter King to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio - offering their own, sometimes opposite, interpretations of what should have occurred.

Harbaugh said he thought Brooks "made a great play," but acknowledged his view is "slanted"

"The play occurred that occurred," Harbaugh said. "I thought Ahmad hit at the right level, hit at the shoulder level. And the quarterback shrunk down. And that was the call that was made. I'm going see it the way I see it, and it's going to be a slanted view. I really don't know what more I can say about it."

Immediately after the game, Brooks said he thought the hit was legal but also said he wasn't surprised a defensive player would be penalized in that situation. "They try to protect all the players around the NFL as much as possible. I just think they protect the offensive players a little too much," he said, noting that offensive linemen are permitted to use cut blocks on defensive players.

Teammate Ian Williams suffered a season-ending broken ankle on a cut block in Week 2. Brooks said he thought he hit Brees in his chest, something that replays verify. As the quarterback was dropping, however, Brooks' arm goes under the quarterback's chin.

"I'm going full speed, he's going full speed and at the last second he (Brees) ducked his shoulders," Brooks said. "So I don't know what I could have done differently."

Harbaugh said he has not taken the matter to the league offices.


* Harbaugh had no updates on cornerback Tarell Brown (ribs) and guard Mike Iupati (knee). Both were due to receive MRI's and X-rays today. Brown left in the second quarter; Iupati in the third.

* Harbaugh said he thought Michael Crabtree "was close" to returning to the playing field but said "we'll see" when asked if Crabtree would play Monday against the Redskins. Crabtree did not practice with the team last week, an indication that his playing debut probably is not imminent.

* Harbaugh said a silver lining to the 49ers' recent troubles is that it gives the team an opportunity to "show the steel in the spine." At this point in the last two seasons, the 49ers were in the driver's seat to take the division. This year, they are among several teams that will be gunning just to earn a wildcard berth.

-- 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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