One day after after Clay Matthews‘ illegal takedown of Colin Kaepernick, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh began his takedown of the Packers linebacker.
The hit was the culmination of a week of smack-talking by Matthews, who repeatedly stressed Green Bay’s plan to put a hurting on the read-option quarterback.
But Harbaugh said the tackle, which drew a flag and led — controversially — to a San Francisco touchdown, and the skirmish that ensued only reaffirmed the fact Matthews is what some would call “fake tough.”
“Colin scrambles out of bounds, you get the personal foul play,” Harbaugh told reporters Monday. “You talk about launching, you talk about a clothesline to the neck area when our quarterback is six, seven feet out of bounds … I was kind of struck.
“That certainly was a cheap shot.”
In addition to the hit itself, Harbaugh directed attention toward Matthews’ behavior after the play, when he punched Niners tackle Joe Staley in the head before hitting Staley with an open-palmed slap. That slap may change the league’s perception of the long-haired linebacker, Harbaugh says.
“I looked at it with my own eyes, I could see two punches thrown to Joe’s head. Well, one punch and one open slap,” Harbaugh said. “If you’re going to go to the face, come with some knuckles. … I think that young man works hard on being a tough guy, he’ll have some repairing to do to his image after to the slap.”
Matthews was arguably the Packers’ top defensive player on Sunday, totaling eight tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack. It was not enough to lead his team to a win, though, as the 49ers defeated Green Bay for the third time in the last two seasons.