Clay Matthews and John Madden have something in common: They both believe the best way to stop a read-option quarterback is to hit him.
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San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh wonders about the legality of that approach. Harbaugh told reporters Wednesday that the Green Bay Packers linebacker's "tough talk" about stopping Colin Kaepernicksounds a lot like "targeting a specific player."
Harbaugh went on to say he's had discussions with the NFL office about what is and isn't legal when it comes to hitting quarterbacks who run the read option. Matthews, whose Packers face the 49erson Sunday, spoke about the strategy on ESPN's "Mike and Mike."
"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 Monday. "So with that, you do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they're too important to their offense. ... So you want to put hits as early and often on the quarterback and make them uncomfortable."
Harbaugh doesn't say anything to the media without a purpose. He wants officials handling the 49ers' game against the Packers to be aware of hits from Matthews. It's reminiscent of when Harbaugh and New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride went back and forth last year in an epic battle of gamesmanship.